Modena, Italy, 1582. Seventeen-year-old seamstress Sofia Genotti is on the run, falsely accused of theft. Penniless and desperate to avoid the perils of whoredom, she is introduced to a troupe of travelling actors, who ask her to join them as costume mistress. Within weeks she is learning to act.
Acting will bring her closer to Beppe Bianchi, who plays the anarchic character Arlecchino. As the two become increasingly intimate, Sofia is sure that she has never been happier. But after a fêted performance at an aristocrat's castle, she is accosted by the owner . . . and the following morning he is found dead. Sofia is accused of murder.
A tale of blackmail and and sexual jealousy will reveal the true killer and the redemptive power of theatre will triumph. If you like Philippa Gregory you will love The Girl with the Painted Face.