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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Wedding: An Encounter with Jan Van Eyck - Elizabeth M. Rees Rating: 3* of fiveI just spent two very busy days, but made a little time to read "The Wedding" by Elizabeth A. Rees. It's a YA novel based on the famous Jan van Eyck painting "The Arnolfini Wedding." Watson-Guptill, primarily an information publisher, did a series called "Encounters With Art" in which YA writers are asked to imagine stories based on or featuring famous works of art that are intended to illuminate (pun optional) the nature of painting and sculpture as storytelling media. Since humans are storytelling apes, this idea interested me. Ms. Rees tells the story of young Giovanna, the bride in the painting, as she comes of age and discovers love and duty in her very different world. She falls in love with an unsuitable young man, a la "Romeo and Juliet", during her first-ever night out as her father's arm ornament at a Burgundian court shindig in her new home of Bruges (recently arrived from Paris after her mother's death). While there, she also meets Jan van Eyck who asks for permission to paint her portrait. Her trip to van Eyck's studio is made still more exciting than it would be anyway by the...gasp!...appearance of the unsuitable love object!Hijinks ensue. She marries dutifully, but wisely, knowing as she now does about the heart wanting what it wants, or else it doesn't care. The marriage lasts for forty years. Love? NEVER lasts forty anythings longer than maybe days.Is this a book of brilliant writing? No indeed. Is it an entertaining book? Yes indeed. I like the idea of the series very much, and I liked the way Ms. Rees imagined the world of Bruges in the 15th century, and the way she wove fact and fancy together was deft and engaging. I recommend it withtout making a fuss about it.