A pleasant enough book, though I'm not sure I really understood it. The main lesson of the book seems to be that it sucked to live in the 1600's? Or that it 1.2f * sucked to be a woman back then? The story is a bit like Uprooted, with a cold master and warmer apprentice, though this time the subject is painting rather than magic, and there is laundry rather than sword battles, and in general things are woefully under consummated. I liked the tidbits about painting theory in the book, though they were generally more technical than ideological. I prefer Iris Murdoch's take on painting in the SandCastle. I did like though the small details of Netherlandic life that the author put in, and I liked the understated and calm nature of the main character. The ending was also pleasant, though I feel that the author also had a great, uncertain ending ~10 pages before the real ending. I half-wish she had just ended the book early, with all of the possible futures hanging in the air.