Highlighting Historical Fiction with Belle Ami who shares her research into Rembrandt’s daughter.
Thank you, Caroline, for the opportunity to talk about my latest release in the Out of Time series. I adore writing this series because it’s a smorgasbord of genres: Romance, historical fiction, art history, thriller, mystery, and just for good measure I throw in a little bit of travelogue and cuisine.
In The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt, I crafted a story from the missing pieces of Rembrandt’s life. When you travel back in time four hundred years you learn that what is known about a historical figure is often sketchy. This void of facts begs for an author’s interpretation. One of the suppositions I ask is, why did Rembrandt never paint his daughter, Cornelia? Cornelia was the lovechild of Rembrandt and his common-law wife Hendrickje Stoffels (Hendrickje is pictured). Rembrandt painted everyone else in his family. In fact, he painted almost everyone he ever met. He painted his son numerous times, his wife, his lover, and Hendrickje. Why not his daughter? I found it curious, so I created a story about his relationship with Cornelia and it turned out to be one of the most poignant stories I have ever written. I still cry when I read the ending.
A bit of trivia for your readers is that Cornelia had two sons that mysteriously died in the capital of the Dutch East Indies—Batavia, presently known as Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. Purportedly both of Rembrandt’s grandchildren died in their teens of malaria or the plague and Rembrandt’s bloodline died with them. One of the premises of The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt is, what if the bloodline didn’t die?
About the Book
A frightening premonition of the theft of a priceless Rembrandt family portrait pulls psychic art historian, Angela Renatus, on a hunt to uncover the truth about the masterpiece. Sensing a connection to the great master himself, Angela fears that another of her doomed past lives with her fiancé Alex Caine will reveal itself to her. And with that revelation comes the possible threat of losing Alex in this lifetime.
A former Navy SEAL turned private investigator of stolen art—Alex never backs down from a fight. When the FBI comes calling for Angela’s help to track down the powerful drug lord who masterminded the theft, Alex is determined to keep her safe. Angela is equally determined to unravel her visions about Rembrandt and the stolen painting—haunting visions about a long-buried secret in the Rembrandt family. A secret that could alter the course of her life…
October 12, 1662
“How dare those pompous ignoramuses return the painting! What do they know of art? Nothing!”
Hendrickje Stoffels jumped as a plate flew past her ears, smashing against the wood cabinet. She ran to her daughter, Cornelia, and swept her up in her arms.
“Vader, no,” the weeping child pleaded.
“It’s all right, Neeltje,” Hendrickje smoothed her daughter’s golden curls over her shoulder and kissed her cheek.
“The pandering vetzaks! Fat bags!” Rembrandt van Rijn raged, his voice shaking the rafters of the house. Neeltje clung to Hendrickje, her legs wrapped tight around her mother’s waist. Hendrickje prayed the painter’s venting would appease his temper and curb his assault on her good plates, or soon there would be nothing left to eat on.
She knew well it was better to let the bitter tirade run its course. What bothered her was seeing their eight-year-old daughter frightened to death by her father’s outburst.
“Those Godverdomme zakkenwassers, their taste is in their klootzakken!”
“Rembrandt, enough! Think of Neeltje!” She covered the child’s ears. Referring to the governors of Amsterdam as goddamn pocket-washers and assholes was not appropriate language for a child, nor was it going to solve the problem. What if Neeltje repeated it in front of a patron? Mijn God, the trouble would certainly rain down on them.
Rembrandt’s mouth clamped shut into a thin line. His hands fisted on his hips and he glared at her. Her gaze dropped to the floor, where a massive rolled canvas filled the length of the room.
“What has happened?” Realization began to dawn on her.
“What has happened?” he repeated in a furious whisper. “What has happened is those idiots have returned …Civilis, a painting, as you well know, I worked on for two years! It hung in the Town Hall for two weeks, and now they have sent it back without so much as a guilder for my trouble.”
Hendrickje covered her mouth to hold back the bile that rose in her throat.
It was a disaster. They needed this commission desperately.
“What will you do?”
A red-faced Rembrandt stared at the bundle on the floor. “Damn them all. I’ll cut it into little pieces and stuff it down each one of their throats.” He ran up the stairs, his heavy footfalls thundering through the house. A minute later, he returned with a pair of large scissors in his hand. He pushed the furniture to the edges of the room and cut the jute that secured the rolled painting. He kicked the canvas until it lay flat on the floor. It was the largest history painting he’d ever done, and it took up every centimeter of space. He crouched, scissors poised, preparing to cut.
“Vader, please, no!” Neeltje cried. “Don’t hurt the painting.” Her face was wet with tears, and she sniffled, her small hand wiping her nose. Hendrickje’s heart broke for Neeltje, who worshipped her father.
Rembrandt looked up at Neeltje’s stricken face and dropped the scissors—they clattered to the floor. Standing, he walked to mother and daughter, his shoulders slumped. “Mijn parel, my pearl,” Rembrandt murmured the affectionate nickname he called his beloved daughter. “Forgive me, Dochter, your vader did not mean to frighten you. Cease your tears. I will not destroy the painting.”
About the Author
Belle Ami writes breathtaking international thrillers and compelling romantic suspense with a touch of sensual heat. A self-confessed news junky, Belle loves to create cutting-edge stories about politics, espionage, and redemptive love.
Belle is the author of the international espionage thriller series TIP OF THE SPEAR which includes the highly acclaimed Escape, Vengeance, and Ransom, and the newly published Exposed.
She is also the author of the bestselling OUT OF TIME thriller series which includes the #1 Amazonbestseller—The Girl Who Knew da Vinci and #1 Amazon bestseller— The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio, 1st runner up for the RONE Award, and the recently published The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt.
Her new series THE BLUE COAT SAGA which includes The Rendezvous in Paris, The Lost Legacy of Time, and The Secret Book of Names, a dual timeline story about WWII and the Holocaust and a young woman’s promise to her grandmother.
Belle is a Kathryn McBride scholar of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Her passions include hiking, boxing, skiing, spinning, cooking, and of course, writing.
She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, a horse named Cindy Crawford, and her brilliant Chihuahua, Giorgio Armani.
Belle loves to hear from readers.
If you are interested in writing an honest review in exchange for a free Belle Ami book, contact Belle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Belle Ami online: