The art world of mid-16th century Italy comes to life through the eyes of a piebald slave stolen from her home and family in Africa.
Chiara, as she is eventually named, is sold to Paolo Pallavicino, an artist in service of Giuliano de Medici. When several unfortunate incidents occur, the artist’s wife believes her to be a curse and demands that she be sent away. From this starting point, Chiara works her way from painter to painter, observing the games the artists play on each other and the rivalries that fuel their artistic creations.
About the author
Born in England, Pauline Holdstock came to Canada in 1974. Her first novel, The Blackbird's Song, was a finalist in the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1987. Her 2004 novel Beyond Measure was nominated for the Giller Prize. Her writing has appeared in Exile, Event, Grain, NeWest Review, Malahat Review, Flare and Antigonish Review among others. She lives in Sidney on Vancouver Island.
- Nominated, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
- Winner, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
- Nominated, Commonwealth Writers' Prize
- Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize
“This well-executed novel can sit comfortably on any bookshelf alongside work by writers like A.S. Byatt and Jane Urquhart.”
“In Beyond Measure, Holdstock has created a fascinating portrayal of a society obsessed with surfaces, which sees the creation of beauty as ample justification for torture, mutilation, and murder.”
Books in Canada
“Holdstock, with a few deft strokes, pulls the reader into the tumultuous life of an alluring rabble of characters: painters, sculptors, patrons, fools, and slaves … In Beyond Measure, she proves herself a master of pacing. Her lively, macabre plot trips lightly along in spite of its dark elements.”
The Globe and Mail