Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Blood Water Paint
Author: Joy McCullough
Format: Hard copy purchased from Book Outlet

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 painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

I will show you
what a woman can do.



This is not a novel I would normally reach for.

Historical fiction isn’t my thing, particularly one from the 1600s. However, I was so drawn to the title and the cover and the high ratings on Goodreads. And since I’ve been reaching for books that I can read quickly at the end of the year, I picked up this one.

And I’m so glad I did.

This book was gorgeously written in its beautiful modern verse. I’m so in love with modern poetry and this book was filled with it, cover to cover.

I’ve also never read a book told entirely in verse and I’ve always been hesitant to do so. There is something to be said for short, high-impact poetry. However, despite its length, this book packed a feminist punch.

I immediately wanted to shove it in the hands of every teenage girl I know. It’s a story that needs to be told.

And it isn’t pretty. The happy ending isn’t tied up in a beautiful bow. The ending isn’t sad or maddening, though the story is. But it also isn’t perfect. It’s real.

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate perfect endings, but for a story like this? I feel it is better to be realistic. Not just better. It’s important to be realistic.

Granted, the world that Artemisia lived in is different from ours in so many ways, thank goodness… but, unfortunately, some of those ancient prejudices are still alive and well, if morphed a bit.

This book won’t be for everyone for many reasons. Whether it is the trigger warnings or how it is told in verse, but for those who can bear those things and appreciate the poetry, it is a necessary read.

Re-read Worthiness: Yes

Bookshelf Placement: Already there!




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