Love, the Painter’s Wife, & the Queen of Sheba

Written by Aliette Armel trans. Alison Anderson
Review by India Edghill

To keep her husband, the Italian Renaissance painter Piero della Francesco, amused and inspired, the shy and subdued Silvia reads him the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon’s court. The queen’s long-ago voyage and her attempt to balance love and wisdom mirrors Piero’s fierce artistic struggle to produce a new fresco and his wife’s endeavor to keep her husband’s heart purely hers.

Although an exquisite book, this is not, strictly speaking, an historical novel. Despite being set in Renaissance Italy, with flashbacks to a fantastical ancient court, the time and place hardly matters to this dreamy exploration of loss and love.