The painter standing in front of the canvas tries to remember: had she painted that portrait? It had been so long ago. Despite the blinding midday light her sight is blurry, her tired eyes do not recognise the details of that Lady with fan in the painting. Giovanna Pierini’s book takes us back to 1625 Palermo and introduces us to ninety-year-old Sofonisba Anguissola who is trying to conjure back old memories and remember the origin of a painting. This is the pretext to tell the story of one of the first and most significant female Italian artists. The vivid portrait of Italy at the centre of Europe’s courts, the palaces, the artisan’s workshops and the sea voyages, and the city of Palermo, torn apart by the plague, brings to life an era when a female painter didn’t have access to a formal education and had to overcome significant social barriers. Sofonisba was one of the first women who managed to carve out a spot in this exclusive artistic society, and this book, a mixture of history and fiction, outlines the reasons for it: her father’s discerning education, an extraordinary talent and a strong personality.