Judith Leyster aims to be the first woman to enter the Haarlem painter's guild, at the time of such greats as Rembrandt and Frans Hals. But a woman’s ambition is an unwanted commodity in 17th century Holland, and Judith struggles to earn the respect and funds to open her own workshop.
Meanwhile Judith’s closest friend, Maria, is a Catholic in a country where that faith is banned, and she plans to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic. Both women’s destinies will be shaped by not only their ambitions, but those of the city’s most powerful men, whose plans spell disaster for Judith. But Judith has always fought to make her own way...
A vivid portrayal of a remarkable artist and her era, A Light of Her Own is a rich, well-researched story of an ambitious woman who fulfilled her name by becoming a true “leading star.”
“Set in 1633 Holland, Callaghan’s riveting debut convincingly brings to life determined painter Judith Leyster, the first woman to attain master status in the cutthroat profession … Callaghan skillfully balances both the intricacies of the 17th-century Dutch art world and the religious persecution of the time, making this a dextrously woven and engrossing historical novel.” - Publishers Weekly.
“A Light of Her Own, as a portrait of two brave and ambitious Dutch women painters, and a glimpse into 17th century life in Holland, is recommended to all fans of historical fiction.” - NY Journal of Books
“Carrie Callaghan has created a remarkable pair of heroines... A Light of Her Own catches the reader in a web of intrigue, art, and ambition and does not let go until the final page. “ - Washington Independent Review of Books
“A Light of Her Own is a beautifully crafted story set in seventeenth-century Holland, in which two women navigate the law, destiny, and their unstoppable ambition ... Riveting.” - Foreword Reviews
Self portrait by Judith Leyster
The original painting hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Carrie is a senior editor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. Find her reviews and interviews here.