Disobedient: A Novel
A riveting novel based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi—the greatest female painter of the Renaissance—as she forges her own destiny in a world dominated by the will of men.
This is the ring that you gave me, and these are your promises.
A young woman is put on trial. She has accused her painting teacher of the darkest betrayal - he accuses her of being an immoral liar. What really happened, and why will this trial scandalise seventeenth-century Rome?
Rome 1611. A jewel-bright place of change, with sumptuous new palaces and lavish wealth on constant display. A city where women are seen but not heard.
Artemisia Gentileschi dreams of becoming a great artist. Motherless, she grows up among a family of painters - men and boys. She knows she is more talented than her brothers, but she cannot choose her own future. She belongs to her father and will belong to a husband.
As Artemisia patiently goes from lesson to lesson, perfecting her craft, a mysterious tutor enters her life. Tassi is a dashing figure, handsome and worldly, and for a moment he represents everything that a life of freedom might offer. But then the unthinkable happens. A violent act that threatens Artemisia's honour, and her virtue.
In the eyes of her family, Artemisia should accept her fate. In the eyes of the law, she is the villain.
But Artemisia is a survivor. And this is her story to tell.
Praise for Disobedient: A Novel
"[Artemisia Gentileschi's] determined, passionate character is triumphantly depicted in Fremantle’s immersive new novel. Fremantle’s characterizations and descriptions of life in 17th-century Rome are word paintings as vivid as Artemisia’s, and the gripping, well-constructed plot will captivate historical-fiction and suspense readers from the first page."
— Library Journal (starred)
“Silence has always been difficult for Artemisia Gentileschi, the immensely talented daughter of an alcoholic painter who knows that her gifts are far greater than his own. Elizabeth Fremantle homes in on the infamous rape case that tarnished Artemisia’s adolescence even as it ultimately freed her to become one of the most accomplished artists of her era.”
— Alida Becker, The New York Times Book Review
“Elizabeth Fremantle deftly paints Artemisia [Gentileschi]’s painful but inspiring story in her latest biographical fiction, Disobedient. The attention to detail –– so necessary in a narrative filled with painters –– is absolutely engrossing. Disobedient was everything I’d hoped for and so much more. Fremantle has immense talent and tells the story of an amazing and inspiring woman with wit and certainty.”
— Donna Edwards, The Associated Press
"Fremantle fleshes out the painter’s artistic calling, friendships, inner world, and navigation of life after a sexual assault with sensitivity and expressive, engulfing prose."
"This is [Fremantle's] best work, her equivalent of Gentileschi’s painting Judith Slaying Holofernes. Disobedient is vivid, unflinching and sometimes justly furious."
— The Times (London)
“Dazzling. Fremantle breathes new life into history: Artemisia is a powerful protagonist, and Disobedient is taut, fast-paced and as painterly as its heroine’s canvases.”
— The Daily Mail (UK)
“In a novel as vivid and powerful as the paintings made by its main character, Fremantle tells the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, Renaissance artist and feminist icon. Imbued with historical detail and suffused with imagination, this is an exceptional work of biographical fiction.”
“Based on real-life events, Disobedient is narrated from Artemisia’s perspective. One of the few women of her time to be given an opportunity to work as a painter, Artemisia is still considered one of the most important artists of the Baroque era. Disobedient honors the artist’s perseverance and fight for artistic freedom.”
— Foreword Reviews
“Artemisia’s life was extraordinary, and so is this book. I was swept away by lush, evocative prose. An unforgettable, moving and important story told with great skill and care.”
— Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne
“I could not put this book down. Every woman – and man – should read it. Shocking, gripping, Fremantle has crafted a tale that vividly evokes Baroque Italy by portraying a strong, assertive women. Splendid!”
— Alison Weir