History, Mythology+Fantasy

Historical Fiction: Painter to the King by Amy Sackville

In a constant quest to read something different, my eyes have been wandering about trying to pick up different titles. These days I have been picking up the not so popular ones, across genres from different parts of the globe. Though I may often not really find the plot completely palatable, I have begun to appreciate the books for various other aspects. I have begun to notice the varied writing styles adapted by authors, each with their own uniqueness. A recent book I read- Painter to the King- was a book from across the globe. Written by Amy Sackville, it was recommended by my favorite bookstagrammer. Not sure if it was the image of the book or just her description of it, I picked it up without giving it much thought.

A historical fiction, the book turned out to be fairly decent. I wouldn’t categorize it as an absolutely must read, nor would I term it to be totally detestable. For a one time read, portions of it stayed with me. It brought about some learning, of history, of Europe and times of en era, where art spoke volumes. The book seemed akin to visiting an art museum in some obscure part of Europe. You may not understand the depth of it, yet your eyes seldom fail to appreciate its beauty. Painter to the King is exactly like this. You may not get the depth of Amy’s plot in entirety, but your mind will appreciate her loosely woven words that seem no lesser than the art of Diego Velazquez.

Who is Diego Velazquez?

Diego Velazquez was a renowned Spanish artist in the court of King Philip IV. Painter to the king is a partially fictitious account of his life, from the time he arrived at the court of the King till his death, after 38 years. The years described in the book are considered to be his best when he created the famed creator of Las Meninas. Diego Velazquez finds his spot in the great Spanish Golden Age.

What is Painter to the King About?

Imagine filling in pages about art- not with colors but with words. What ensues is a narration of a different kind, a prose as beautiful as the art in itself. The book is a portrait of people, and words that speak volumes about the relationship between Philip IV and Diego. It isn’t your usual friendship. A ruler always on duty and under stress of coping up with the expectations of his subjects, Philip IV displays a pitiable character. Diego is the master on his own, who works his way through strokes and sketches. Amidst art, and a growing relationship between the king and his artist, the book traces seventeenth century Spain- the rituals, the patronage, the complicated politics of the royal court, succession of births and deaths and marriages.

What Scored and What Failed?

The sheer imagination of Amy, I appreciate her choice of words, the smooth narration and the merging of history with art. It makes one imagine Diego and his strokes, as he creates his masterpiece. There is an element of brilliance in the descriptions. Yet, it is these very descriptions that let the book down too. Way too elaborate, in a couple of sections, seemed wasteful, and failed to hold my attention completely. The book is slow, with hardly any concrete plot.

Though I loved Amy’s unconventional style of writing, the pace wasn’t suitable to me. Also for a book that deals with people, it felt inadequate on the emotional front.

Painter to the king is not your usual fiction. It is for those who devour anything and everything about art.

Painter to the King

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

Featured Image Source: Granta.com

Disclaimer: This blog post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission, if you click through and make a purchase.

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