Blood Water Paint

Blood Water Paint

A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.She chose paint.By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented...

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Title:Blood Water Paint
Author:Joy McCullough
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Edition Language:English

Blood Water Paint Reviews

  • Mackenzi

    I LOVE this book.

    Official blurb/review to come.

  • alice (arctic books)

    Simply put, BLOOD WATER PAINT is a stunning and heartbreaking novel. I finished this in one sitting, partly because it was in free verse so the pages went by incredibly quickly, and partly because the writing and plot were so captivating.

    BLOOD WATER PAINT follows Artemisia, a young artist living in 17th century Italy, who lives to paint, paints to live. In the aftermath of rape, Artemisia tries to find solace in a couple of her painting’s subjects, Susanna and Judith, who ultimately brings an in

    Simply put, BLOOD WATER PAINT is a stunning and heartbreaking novel. I finished this in one sitting, partly because it was in free verse so the pages went by incredibly quickly, and partly because the writing and plot were so captivating.

    BLOOD WATER PAINT follows Artemisia, a young artist living in 17th century Italy, who lives to paint, paints to live. In the aftermath of rape, Artemisia tries to find solace in a couple of her painting’s subjects, Susanna and Judith, who ultimately brings an inner voice of strength to her during the trial. I couldn’t stop reading this novel, as it was so well thought out and harrowing.

    Written in free verse, BLOOD WATER PAINT is an emotional and poignant historical read, based upon the real Artemisia. It’s written with feminist and empowering verses, themes of grief and anger towards a completely misogynistic society. Throughout the novel, there are also portions of other stories, following the Artemisia’s Susanna and Judith in their own struggles.

    Overall, Joy McCullough’s debut novel is one of my favorite books of this year and one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you’re a feminist, like poetry, and enjoy historical fiction novels based on real people, this one is definitely for you.

    Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    sexual assault, misogyny, suicidal thoughts, violence, brief physical torture, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, murder, betrayal.

    When I was given the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for this book’s release, I was absolutely elated. I didn’t know much about the writing itself, but I knew that it was historical fiction (check), feminist (check), widely beloved by a slew of my favorite authors (check), and about an actual human being (c

    sexual assault, misogyny, suicidal thoughts, violence, brief physical torture, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, murder, betrayal.

    When I was given the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for this book’s release, I was absolutely elated. I didn’t know much about the writing itself, but I knew that it was historical fiction (check), feminist (check), widely beloved by a slew of my favorite authors (check), and about an actual human being (check). Those were all of the traits that I was expecting, but what I wasn’t expecting was for the book to be written mostly in verse (incredible), partially in second-person narrative (haunting), one of the heaviest and most heart-breaking things I would ever read (devastated me), and one of the single most

    works of literature to ever grace my shelf.

    Artemisia’s words are beautiful, angry, passionate, and chilling—but if you already know where it’s headed, it’s a tough one to read. Have you ever watched two vehicles collide? It feels like time slows down right before it happens, and of course, you wish you could stop it before it begins, but you’ll never be quick enough. You’ll never manage to go back in time, to put yourself in exactly the right moment, the right space, to prevent these damages from occurring.

    feeling—that utter helplessness—was precisely where I found myself through every page I turned.

    The painter isn’t some flawlessly happy protagonist: she’s angry, exhausted, and bitter, but in all the best ways. At such a young age, she’s already seen enough of the world to become jaded. We don’t have to watch Artemisia learn distrust—it’s already there, right where it’s been since the day of her birth. Right where it’s been since the day any baby girl is born into a world that wants to raise her like a lamb for the slaughter.

    I adored Artemisia’s tenacity, her weariness with the world of men, because I related so strongly to it. After twenty-five years on this earth, I’ve seen and felt enough to nearly lose hope, and in the verses our painter weaves, there’s this beautiful, bittersweet sort of comfort. There’s a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a voice saying,

    It’s everything I wish I’d had as a little girl. It’s everything I want little girls to have, present and future. I want stories that tell young girls, already red-faced from the touches and gazes of society, that it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to want

    and

    Alongside Artemisia’s poetry, we get brief glimpses of her late mother’s bedtime stories in prose. Her mother has passed on years before the story takes place, but the second-person narrative we’re given from her is so beautiful and fiery that it makes it impossible not to love her, despite never actually “meeting” her. We instantly see where Artemisia’s fire comes from. More than that, as a mother, I’m reminded of how easy that flame is to pass on when we nurture its spark.

    And if you’re thinking to yourself that all of these words are empty insults flung at kindly, innocent victims, wrongfully attributed with malice where they meant only compliments and courting, Joy McCullough stops you there, too.

    isn’t just a story of anger and assault. Artemisia’s attacker isn’t just the handsome teacher with the roaming hands and hips—it’s the judge and jury, too. It’s the entire world of onlookers, literally

    her in hopes that she will rescind her claims, accept the loss of what was ripped away from her and tuck herself away into a silent corner while the world spins on.

    I wish I could say this was just a beautiful story, but what you have to know is that Artemisia was a real woman. This is her true, brutal story. These are her truths, taken from the chapters that will never make it into most history texts. More than just

    truths, these are the truths of 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 American men, with higher rates for trans women and trans men, respectively). These are the truths of individuals of all walks of life, all gender identities and sexual orientations, all nationalities and skin colors, all religions and ages, all wealth classes and educational statuses, worldwide,

    This book may be historical fiction, but nothing about what happened to Artemisia has been left in the past.

    Perhaps the most important aspect of

    , though, is one I haven’t touched upon yet: how incredibly, desperately, unspeakably

    it is that we listen to victims and believe their stories.

    Through Artemisia’s story, and her mother’s bedtime tales of the biblical Susanna and Judith, we are reminded again and again that we—especially those of us identifying among the same groups who are at highest risk for assault—absolutely

    support, love, and trust victims when they come to us. Whether we are survivors or not, it is so essential that we take the necessary steps to creating a world where we put rapists on trial, not victims.

    I think I could stretch this review on for days, with the way this book impacted me.

    is brutal. It will not kindly lead you into its metaphors and parables; it will leave you breathless from gut punches you didn’t see coming. As a survivor, there are phrases in this book that mirrored my own thoughts so profoundly that my own blood felt like ice in my veins. I implore you, please practice self-care while reading—but

    pick up a copy of this book. Find it in a bookstore, ask your library to add it to their collections, borrow it from a friend. Get this story into your hands and let it break you open and remind you of how far we still have to come. Let it remind you of the actions

    can take to help us get there.

    You can find this review and more on my

    , or you can follow me on

    ,

    , or

    !

  • Kai

    "

    "

    Okay, okay, hear me out: a feminist young adult historical novel written in verse. About a female painter who wins a trial against her rapist - in 1612.

    This is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a young woman living in Rome with her family. Her father sells paintings signed with his name, even though it is Artemisia who does all the work. Her mother, long dead now, once told her goodnight-stories

    "

    "

    Okay, okay, hear me out: a feminist young adult historical novel written in verse. About a female painter who wins a trial against her rapist - in 1612.

    This is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a young woman living in Rome with her family. Her father sells paintings signed with his name, even though it is Artemisia who does all the work. Her mother, long dead now, once told her goodnight-stories of strong women trying to survive in the world of men. Today she finds solace in these tales. When a handsome young artist comes into her home and promises to take her under his wing and free her from her malicious father, Artemisia falls in love with him - until he does not take a no for a no.

    Now Artemisia faces a trial: she may lose the only thing she has left - her ability to paint - and no one might ever believe her. But with the help of the women from her mother's stories, she fights for truth and justice.

    This was such a powerful and intense read. The first time I fell in love with this book was when I saw the cover, the second time when I read the first page. Most of this book is written in verse; however, there are a few chapters in usual, written form: the stories of Judith and Susanna. We see the hardships and choices these three women have to face and they are all equally terrifying and captivating.

    What I love even more than a well-written young adult novel are books that talk about inequality and injustice; books that teach young readers that, even though all humans are equal, women continue to be overlooked and suppressed. These books point out the injustice done to girls and women around the world while they educate and empower their readers to do better, to make their voices heard, and to fight for the respect they deserve. Books like

    ,

    and

    are rare but so very important and I will keep talking about them until everybody has read them.

  • Dahlia

    That was really incredibly done. It's so beautifully historical but thoroughly modern at the same time, and so skillful at its depiction and articulation of the male gaze vs. the female one. This made me want to go out and learn everything possible about Artemesia, which is my absolute favorite result of historical fiction based on real people. Just...so, so good.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    This is a hard book to decently review.

    I think it's nigh-impossible to review a verse novel well. And this is not just a verse novel;

    If you've read the blurb, you know this follows the story of 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Or at least, the beginning of her story. When she was seventeen, Artemisia had taken on most of the duties at her father's studio and was preparing to m

    This is a hard book to decently review.

    I think it's nigh-impossible to review a verse novel well. And this is not just a verse novel;

    If you've read the blurb, you know this follows the story of 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Or at least, the beginning of her story. When she was seventeen, Artemisia had taken on most of the duties at her father's studio and was preparing to marry a trusted teacher. Yet it was soon discovered that this teacher was far less than the fine man he seemed. She was raped and violated by him, and forced to undergo a trial for her honor that was violating and involved torture on her part.

    After her full ordeal, the man who had raped her and destroyed the lives of multiple other women was given one year in prison. He was released after six months.

    This book is a powerful exploration not only of Artemisia's strength, but also of the strength of Biblical heroines like Judith and Susanna. It's an exploration of the power we have and the power we take, and it is

    I don't necessarily think the prose was the best I've

    read, but it's certainly quite well-done. Verse novels can occasionally have a tendency to come off false, yet that is not at all a category this falls in to.

    This book is

    and

    and

    and I cannot recommend it enough.

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  • Laura

    This was really quite powerful and beautiful and devastating all at the same time. It is based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, an iconic painter from the seventeenth century.

    is written in verse for the majority of the novel with the exception of the stories of Judith and Susanna which are told in prose by Artemisia's mothe

    This was really quite powerful and beautiful and devastating all at the same time. It is based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, an iconic painter from the seventeenth century.

    is written in verse for the majority of the novel with the exception of the stories of Judith and Susanna which are told in prose by Artemisia's mother, who passed away when she was just twelve years old.

    I'm going to withhold details of the plot, but if you know about Artemisia, you already know where this story will go. Fair warning that rape is unfortunately a part of her story. But damn if this isn't inspiring as hell. Between the stories of Susanna, Judith and Artemisia, there is just so much female strength. It is empowering.

    The writing is gorgeous and truly hooked me. It evoked emotion within me and even brought out such rage for these women and what it was to be a woman in the past. There are still issues today, but that doesn't mean I'm not thankful to be alive this century. I always love when I read a historical fiction novel and want to research everything I can after finishing. That's exactly what I did here. Artemisia's story is fascinating.

    There are beautiful moments showing the disparities between gender roles, the expectations that fall upon Artemisia and what her future can and cannot possibly hold, the fact that she herself is her father's property until she marries - in which case she'd be considered her husband's property.

    To be honest, I had so many quote highlighted that it became hard to pick my favorites. The writing is definitely a star here alongside Artemisia's incredibly powerful story. Highly recommended!

  • Rachel

    I really wanted to love this book. I studied art history extensively in college, I love Artemisia Gentileschi, and the promise of a story from her perspective was so tantalizing that I ended up ignoring my suspicions that this book was going to be too young and too heavy-handed for me. I really should have listened to my gut on this one.

    Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter, whose works are often overshadowed by the fact that she was raped by her mentor, Agostino Tassi. She and he

    I really wanted to love this book. I studied art history extensively in college, I love Artemisia Gentileschi, and the promise of a story from her perspective was so tantalizing that I ended up ignoring my suspicions that this book was going to be too young and too heavy-handed for me. I really should have listened to my gut on this one.

    Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter, whose works are often overshadowed by the fact that she was raped by her mentor, Agostino Tassi. She and her father Orazio took him to trial and eventually won the case, though she was subjected to torture to verify her claims, and Tassi only served two years in prison before his release.

    is a novel in verse told from Artemisia's perspective, which focuses mainly on her rape and the subsequent trial, which explores the way she drew on the biblical figures Susanna and Judith for inspiration.

    Look, I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I could not agree more with McCullough's indictment of the patriarchy, her lament of how women are treated in society, the parallels between Artemisia's circumstances and the #MeToo movement. The problem is, she sacrifices subtlety and authenticity at the altar of these ideas. This book is one of the most maddeningly simplistic, binary, melodramatic, and anachronistic things I've ever read. While the word 'feminism' never appears in this book (thankfully - not because I don't like the word feminism, but because it isn't a concept yet in in the seventeenth century), we do see a lot of hot-button issues that we'll all recognize, like:

    and:

    ... which, I'm sorry, but narrated from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old girl in 1610 just strike me as laughably unbelievable. Not because these aren't universal, timeless ideas, but because they're stated so

    by this character who I hesitate to even refer to as Artemisia because she is so transparently a mouthpiece for the author.

    I'm not saying that it's impossible to write a historical novel that focuses mainly on themes which don't have an established vocabulary or some kind of developed social discourse at the time the book is set. I recently read and loved

    by Ian McEwan, which deals primarily with asexuality in a time before the term was coined, and the way McEwan handled the subject was done with subtlety and brilliance. I guess I was just looking for more of this here, I was hoping for a more nuanced and intellectually stimulating rumination on the themes in this book, rather than having everything stated so plainly and positively shoved down the reader's throat. (I mean, I guess it's also worth noting that

    is YA, so maybe I'm being unfair here, but I'd argue that it's even more unfair to posit that YA doesn't have the capacity to be more nuanced than this.)

    There's also another element to this whole thing that admittedly grates on me. As I've said, I really love Artemisia Gentileschi. But the way she's become a cipher for contemporary feminism I think does a disservice to the complexity of her character, as well as to the sundry other groundbreaking female artists we tend to overlook in holding Artemisia up as this feminist poster child. So when I say that I wasn't impressed with the research and historical accuracy in this novel, I'm not trying to be some kind of academic purist. It just felt like the author had seen a tumblr post about how 'Artemisia Gentileschi painted herself as Judith and her rapist as Holofernes!!!1! Badass feminist ICON!!!!' and spun the novel out of this half-formed idea of who Artemisia actually was. The few times the art itself is referenced also suggests to me that McCullough is out of her depth. If you're looking for historical accuracy, please pick up one of the many brilliant biographies written about Artemisia, notably those by Mary Garrard.

    So, to wrap up this novel length review (sorry, thanks for sticking with me): This is a book of (relevant, necessary) 21st century feminist concepts that try to masquerade themselves as Artemisia Gentileschi's story at the expense of narrative, character development, and subtlety, which I felt ultimately did a disservice to its protagonist. But clearly I do not hold the majority opinion about this book, and that is perfectly fine. There are many brilliant and eloquent reviews which discuss this book's virtues, if that's what you're looking for.

  • Tatiana

    I am all for feminism, but this novel is so blunt in its I-am-woman-oppressed-by-the-men-who-are-all-EVIL message, it hurts. I believe the feminist agenda can be brought across more effectively by tools other than woe-is-me-because-I-am-a-woman sentiment in every sentence.

    Also, entirely anachronistic in its narrative voice. The language Artemisia uses is very contemporary and distracts even further from the historical context.

    By all accounts Artemisia Gentileschi was a remarkable woman, I am e

    I am all for feminism, but this novel is so blunt in its I-am-woman-oppressed-by-the-men-who-are-all-EVIL message, it hurts. I believe the feminist agenda can be brought across more effectively by tools other than woe-is-me-because-I-am-a-woman sentiment in every sentence.

    Also, entirely anachronistic in its narrative voice. The language Artemisia uses is very contemporary and distracts even further from the historical context.

    By all accounts Artemisia Gentileschi was a remarkable woman, I am excited to learn more about her elsewhere.

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