Monday, July 28, 2014

The Anatomy Lesson

This is the story behind one of Rembrandt's most famous paintings: The Anatomy Lesson Of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Taking place in a single day, we slowly learn about the events that culminated in this painting. Siegal explores where the cadaver for the lesson came from, and how he ended up being dissected. The story lends humanity to the cadaver in the painting, while explaining how one of Rembrandt's first major works was made.

I thought this was a well researched book, but unfortunately there was not a balance between information obtained through research and the story being told. The information was not well integrated into the plot, and interfered with the flow of the story. I appreciate the effort Siegal made in researching the topic, and I generally prefer my historical novels to be based on fact with a lot of factual information included in the story, this just was not the right balance for me.

The other issue I had was the voices of characters were indistinct. Each chapter is told from a different character's viewpoint, and I could not immediately tell which character's view the chapter I was reading was from. This was unfortunate, because there were some very distinct characters and personalities, so I would have liked to read some clear voices for the different characters.

It was a very dry read, and there was little motivation to continue reading despite the interesting subject matter. If you are interested in Rembrandt or this particular painting, you could probably read a non-fiction account and come away with more information, and obtain it in a more enjoyable manner.

I would recommend reading a different book.

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