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Portrait of an Unknown Woman

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The year is 1526. Hans Holbein the Younger is at the beginning of his remarkable career when he travels to England under the patronage of Sir Thomas More. His arrival brings the Renaissance in painting from Europe to Britain. As a guest in the splendid More household in Chelsea, Holbein begins to paint their first family portrait. Little could he know that in a few short years, the family, Tudor society and England itself would have changed beyond recognition. The great household of the courtier and scholar, Sir Thomas More, was famous for its liveliness and learning. More had taken under his patronage distinguished astrologers, artists, politicians and men of religion, as well as wards of court, proteges and many others. Two people visiting the great house find themselves irresistibly drawn to Meg Giggs, one of More's foster daughters. One of them is John Clement -- dark, tall, elegant -- an erstwhile tutor, now practising to become a medical doctor; a man of compelling presence and mysterious background. The other is Holbein himself -- warm, ebullient, radical and foreign -- sent by the great Erasmus to paint the More family portraits. Meg will find herself powerfully drawn to these two wildly contrasting men. She will love one, and marry the other. The two Holbein family portraits frame this remarkable story with its background of love, family, and of religious and political turmoil. Vanora Bennett has created an exceptionally rich novel, presenting the atmosphere of this Tudor household as rarely achieved.
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Promotional Information

/ Published to tie-in with a major Holbein exhibition at the Tate Gallery, which will run from September 06 to January 07 / Holbein in England will exhibit Holbein's work from when Thomas More was his patron -- it is the first major exhibition of these paintings for more than 50 years and will generate enormous interest in and coverage of Holbein / From the publishers of Tracy Chevalier, Vanora Bennett will appeal to all fans of quality historical fiction / This is a debut novel from a remarkable new talent in historical fiction / Competition: Tracy Chevalier, Sarah Dunant, Sarah Waters

About the Author

Vanora Bennett has written two previous non-fiction books. She has been a foreign correspondent and feature writer for various newspapers. She lives in London with her husband and two young sons.


Praise for 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman': 'Bennett's background detail is impeccable - part love story, part thriller, all excellently imagined and written.' The Times 'There is plenty to admire and enjoy in Bennett's portrayal of a society convulsed by radical change!Vanora Bennett is a writer to watch.' Times Literary Supplement 'There is much to admire in this curate's egg of a novel.' Sunday Telegraph 'An enjoyable read.' Guardian 'Distinguished!Romance, intrigue and art history are confidently blended, and Holbein canvases are afforded starring roles.' Daily Mail 'Rich in period detail, full of human passion, 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman' mingles art, politics and family drama to evoke the period when humanism was taking root in England. A fascinating tale, skilfully told and highly recommended.' Iain Pears, author of 'The Portrait' 'If only history was taught by people like Vanora Bennett!I loved this book.' Penny Smith, First magazine 'An atmospheric, passionate novel set against a backdrop of religious and political upheaval.' Woman and Home More praise for 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman': 'Fans of Tracy Chevalier and Philippa Gregory will lap up this meticulously researched historical tale!A brilliant study of passion, politics, religion and art.' Eve magazine 'Fans of Girl with a Pearl Earring will greet this with open arms: it's a similarly intriguing, clever web of art, passion and historical characters!atmospheric and alive with philosophy and treachery - exhilarating.' Easy Living

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