Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle

Posted March 8, 2023 by Stephanie in can't-wait wednesday / 15 Comments

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read.



Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle
Expected publication: July 6, 2023 by Pegasus Books

A riveting novel based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi—the greatest female painter of the Renaissance—as she forges her own destiny in a world dominated by the will of men.

This is the ring that you gave me, and these are your promises.

A young woman is put on trial. She has accused her painting teacher of the darkest betrayal – he accuses her of being an immoral liar. What really happened, and why will this trial scandalise seventeenth-century Rome?

Rome 1611. A jewel-bright place of change, with sumptuous new palaces and lavish wealth on constant display. A city where women are seen but not heard.

Artemisia Gentileschi dreams of becoming a great artist. Motherless, she grows up among a family of painters – men and boys. She knows she is more talented than her brothers, but she cannot choose her own future. She belongs to her father and will belong to a husband.

As Artemisia patiently goes from lesson to lesson, perfecting her craft, a mysterious tutor enters her life. Tassi is a dashing figure, handsome and worldly, and for a moment he represents everything that a life of freedom might offer. But then the unthinkable happens. A violent act that threatens Artemisia’s honour, and her virtue.

In the eyes of her family, Artemisia should accept her fate. In the eyes of the law, she is the villain.

But Artemisia is a survivor. And this is her story to tell.



This story is based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of my favorite painters from history. She was an Italian Baroque painter from the 17th century that by the age of 15 was already producing work. In 1611, when Artemisia was a young woman she was raped by Agostino Tassi  who was working with her father, Orazio Gentileschi. Nine months later her father pressed charges against Tassi, because it was clear Tassi wasn’t going to mary Artemisia, and a seven-month trial followed. It’s important to say that the charges were not pressed against the rape of Artemisia but violating the Gentileschi family’s honor (meaning her father), which is absolutely insane. Another insane thing is that during the trial Artemisia was tortured with thumbscrews for the purpose of verifying her testimony. Absolutely disgusting if you ask me. Tassi was exiled from Rome but the sentence wasn’t actually carried out. Big surprise there… Even with the rape and trial casting a shadow over Artemesia she still had a successful career as a professional artist, which was really amazing for the time as a woman. She even enjoyed the patronage of the House of Medici and she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Her most notable work includes self-portaits, Susanna and the Elders, Judith and Her Maidservant and Judith Slaying Holofernes. I will post pictures of those paintings below.

So needless to say I am very excited to read Disobedient. I think it will be a compelling and powerful read!


Susanna and the Elders (ca 1610) & Judith Slaying Holofernes (ca 1612-1613)


Judith and Her Maidservant (ca 1623–1625) & Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (ca 1638–1639)


UK cover:



Are you also looking forward to this book?
Leave links to your Can’t-Wait Wednesday post so I can stop by!


15 responses to “Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle

    • I didn’t mention this in the post because it was already so long but in her work she includes a lot of women that were somehow assaulted or treated badly, especially in her bible artworks.

  1. verushka

    It kills me that I had no idea about her work — ask me about male painters, and I can throw a few names at you that I liked. Her work is gorgeous, and this story is terrifying. But she was clearly a survivor. (thanks for teaching me something new today <3)

    • You know now about her and that’s what matters! I wanted to include a little history lessons about into the post because I know she’s not super well known to most people. I love her!

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