Posted By Claire on March 11, 2013
Melanie is an art historian and teacher and this novel is the result of her fascination with the life of Elizabethan miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard, his miniature of an Unknown Man with the strange motto “Attici Amoris Ergo” and her research into the illuminated ‘P’s of the Coram Rege rolls between 1553 and 1565. Melanie has a controversial theory regarding the sitter of the Attici miniature and the reason why Elizabeth’s image changes between the 1560 Michaelmas term P and the Hilary term P, and a novel is the perfect way to explore this theory and to “what if?”. Melanie’s “Author’s Note” explains that the storyline of the novel is based on her theory and she provides a full bibliography of sources, both primary and secondary, so that readers can investigate her ideas further and make their own minds up.
The protagonist of the novel is Nicholas Hilliard, or Hillyarde, and the story follows his life from his beginnings as a student under Levina Teerlinc, through his career in Elizabeth I’s reign up to her death in 1603. It is a wonderful novel which weaves together Hilliard’s own personal story with the intrigue of court life, the rich symbolism of paintings and the messages they conveyed, and the story of Elizabeth’s relationship with Robert Dudley. I don’t want to say any more and spoil the story but suffice to say that I loved the novel. It has all the right ingredients for a gripping read – danger, intrigue, love, secrets, puzzles and death – and left me wanting to research the subject more. I also fell a little in love with Hilliard!
Whether or not you agree with Melanie’s theories really doesn’t matter as you can enjoy it simply as a thrilling historical novel. It is a magical read and I can’t wait for Melanie’s next novel.
“In 1572, the good looking and talented miniature portrait artist, Nicholas Hillyarde, paints the first of many portraits of Elizabeth I, England’s Virgin Queen. His ability to capture a likeness makes him famous and his skills are much sought after by the members of the Elizabethan Court. His loyalty and reputation for discretion leads him to become embroiled as a watcher of those who might wish the queen ill and as a recorder of major events. One day he is asked to paint a portrait of a young man holding a lady’s hand coming from a cloud. The sitter asks for the words “Attici Amoris Ergo” to be added. The translation from the Latin does not make sense. Hillyarde’s wife whispers how the young man resembles the queen and a certain favoured courtier. This suggestion leads Nicholas down a dark path of investigation, which leads to a possible explanation of the riddle of the motto.
Are there alternative meanings to the symbols Hilliard was asked to portray in his Phoenix & Pelican portraits of the queen? Why is the queen so fond of the legend of King Arthur?
Who is the young man? Has Hillyarde stumbled across a dark royal secret and if so, is there evidence hidden elsewhere?”
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing/CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 12, 2013)
Kindle ASIN: B00GKRFJ4Y
Availability:Available as Kindle ebook on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and other Amazon stores. Also available as a paperback at Amazon.com and Amazon UK, and other Amazon stores.
Updated with new cover and publishing details November 2013.