A Light of Her Own
by Carrie Callaghan (Amberjack Publishing, 2018)
Carrie Callaghan’s A Light of her Own is a newly released historical novel that was inspired by the life and art of the 17th century Dutch painter, Judith Leyster. It’s the story of two young women, friends whose dreams and beliefs lead them along different paths. Through life’s challenges as well as the hurts they cause each other, Judith and Maria deal with their newly-adult lives as best as they can.
Callaghan uses fact, conjecture and credible fiction to share Judith Leyster’s struggle to gain the respect and acceptance of the members of the local St. Luke’s Guild. Maria’s story is mostly independent of Judith’s but does eventually find relevance. Themes of human imperfection and forgiveness are well-executed, and cast a reflective light on our own lives.
I particularly appreciate Callaghan’s use of the senses to reinforce the status of the various neighborhoods. The sights, sounds and smells help carry the plot along, one misfortune at a time.
There’s much to be appreciated in this engaging and well-paced novel – the ordeals of a determined female artist, a thoroughly-challenged friendship, and a visit to the earliest days of Holland’s Golden Age.
Any artist or historical fiction enthusiast would surely enjoy it!