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The Ornatrix: A Novel based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
For those who follow me on my blog or social media, they know that I love Italian Historical Fiction. It is my favorite genre. But when it is on the dark side, with plenty of intrigue and grit, there can be no better story. I loved every element, every page, and every word of this well-plotted book. First, there is an appealing protagonist who struggles to gain acceptance because of a large birthmark on her face. It ostracizes her from society. She lives in a convent and encounters the protagonist, a Venetian courtesan named Ghostanza who is obsessed with beauty and her secret recipe for cosmetics where the ingredients are sent to her via an apothecary in Venice. Flavia becomes Ghostanza's Ornatrix (maker of cosmetics). Of course, the make-up is mostly made of lead as was typical of the time, and Flavia soon notices how it ravages the face of her benefactor. Despite the risks, Flavia yearns to use the cosmetic on herself to hide her birthmark. This novel is a tale about the lengths and risks a woman will take order to be beautiful. I especially enjoyed the start of each new chapter or section that highlighted a quote or recipe about an old beauty trick or cosmetic. This fictional story taught me much about the beauty procedures of the past - hair styles, depilatory processes, plucking of hair above the forehead, face creams, lotions, and more including the cerussa paste for the face. Beauty, murder, intrigue, vengeance, and a cast of fascinating and unpredictable characters along with a scintillating plot made this one of my favorite reads of 2016!