My review of the fascinating and captivating book ‘The Truth of the Line’ by Melanie V. Taylor.

The Truth of the Line by Melanie V. Taylor

In 1572, the good looking and talented Nicholas Hillyarde paints the first of many portraits of Elizabeth I, England’s “Virgin Queen”. His ability to capture the likeness of his patrons makes him famous and his skills are much sought after by the rich and powerful members of the Elizabethan Court. His loyalty to Elizabeth even leads him to becoming part of Sir Francis Walsingham’s information network. One day he is approached by a young man with an intriguing commission. Hillyarde is to paint the man holding a lady’s hand – a hand which descends from a cloud – complete with a puzzling motto: “Attici Amoris Ergo”…
There is something familiar about this young man’s face, and Hillyarde is led down a dark path of investigation to discover who this young man may be.
Who is the young man? Has Hillyarde stumbled across a dark royal secret, and, if so, is there evidence hidden elsewhere?

The Truth of the Line is the story of Nicholas Hillyarde, goldsmith and renowned miniature painter during the reign of Elizabeth I and the early years of King James I. Melanie V. Taylor follows Hillyarde’s life from his early entry into the courtly world of Elizabeth I to the final hours of Glorianna.

Taylor’s story is a fascinating and thought provoking look into what life was like during the reign of the last Tudor monarch. Through Hilliard the reader is able to explore what life was like at Elizabeth I’s court, the many intrigues and plots that so often surrounded the Queen and the diplomatic and legal system that always worked behind the scenes. The reader is able to be witness to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots as well as the threat of the Spanish Armada all through the eyes of Hillyarde. In addition to this through Hillyarde the reader is presented with a more personal look at Elizabeth I, breaking away from the portrayed image of the Queen to a far deeper and sensitive side of a woman who fought many great battles in her life, both public and private.

Although a fictional novel this book is deeply rooted in fact. Nicholas Hillyarde was a real, living, breathing person who indeed painted Elizabeth I on multiple occasions as well as other esteemed members of the Queen’s court. Hillyarde is a very compelling man, his miniatures still live with us today and we are able to examine these detailed and breathtaking miniatures to draw deeper conclusions about people that lived hundreds of years ago. Taylor’s book uses a wealth of research to bring the people of the Elizabethan era to life through the eyes of Hillyarde.

During his life Hillyarde stumbles upon a dramatic discovery which could have changed the very course of English history! The reader is shown this discovery and then presented with many pieces of information to support such a shocking discovery – what exactly that is and how it affected Hillyarde and Elizabeth I, I shall let you discover when you read Taylor’s book!

I was drawn to Taylor’s book through her use of imagery and language to describe in great detail portraits, events and people. While reading I felt at times as though I was Hillyarde, looking out through his eyes to see and explore the world in which he lived.

The Truth of the Line is a captivating, well written and moving book which explores the life of renowned artist Nicholas Hillyarde. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Tudor or Art history or simply anyone that wants to read a gripping tale of a very fascinating man.

If you are interested in Melaine’s book you can purchase it from her website: Melanie V. Taylor

Or you can visit her facebook page to learn more about visual history and Melanie’s current research.


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