Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Literary

Beyond Measure

by (author) Pauline Holdstock

Cormorant Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2003
Literary, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2003
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2003
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


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.

Pauline Holdstock's profile page


  • Nominated, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
  • Winner, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
  • Nominated, Commonwealth Writers' Prize
  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

“This well-executed novel can sit comfortably on any bookshelf alongside work by writers like A.S. Byatt and Jane Urquhart.”

Vancouver Sun

“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

Other titles by Pauline Holdstock