Anger rising in my heart for Rembrandt's daughter
Recently I read pages 1- 47 in I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, by Lynn Cullen. I felt anger rising in my heart urging for the right treatment the main character, Cornelia deserves. It is not her fault that her mother was no one but a housemaid, even then she deserve her father’s attention. However, her father only cares about his painting, and Titus, her beloved brother. Cornelia cannot hate Titus, he love his little sister and treat her very well, there’s no way Cornelia could hate him. Being trap in such situation there was nothing much she could do.
I don’t understand how Cornelia could still take it, even when her father name her after his two first born daughters whom pass away. But then again, her mother was a housemaid, she doesn’t have much say. Titus is her half brother, the son of her father’s official wife. Titus treat his sister well, even though they have different mothers. However, Titus then decide to get marry and move into his bride’s house, that leave Cornelia alone with only her father. Even with Titus gone, her father continue to shout Titus’s name to pretend that he’s there. A question pop into Cornelia’s mind, and my mind as well: “what is Cornelia to her father?”
A part of the book that stands out for me is:
“What am I doing, staring down such a boy like this? But before I can look away, he returns my gaze.
Heat comes so fast to my cheeks that I nearly drop from light-headedness. though I have the quickness of mind to pretend that I am merely looking at someone behind him- an old woman, it just so happens, whose chins are laid like a pale pudding the platter of her wagon-wheel ruff. Still smiling, he raises a brow then turns to follow my intent gaze. The old woman glare at him with an intensity that would singe the feathers off a goose. He frowns at the floor.”
It is obviously inappropriate to stare at some stranger, but I am impress with the girl’s quick thinking. If it wasn’t for the such low rank women have in the society during that time, I’m sure she would become somebody well known.
Another part that I pause to look upon was: “Cornelia was the name of his first two daughters by Titus’s mother. Both died young, within days of their birth. Though it is customary to name girls after their grandmother, after the second death, one would begin to think about the luck that name carries. I do.” It is understandable if a girl is name after her grandma, but like the quoted part mention, wouldn’t a person think twice before giving his child the same name again?
This section of I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter reminds me of how I used to dislike my Chinese name a lot. My mom wanted to name me with something like “heart of snow” when I was a baby, but then my grandmother said something really ridiculous that cause the change of my name. “ Wouldn’t be she be freezing all the time, and her body would be very weak?” that was from my grandmother, who actually believe these kind of folk tradition that said your name would affect your characteristics. So it turn out that my mom change my name to “ follows the heart ”, I’m glad she wish me good luck, but couldn’t she be more creative? Those names are very common names you see everywhere on the street, nothing special about it. It doesn’t feel good to see someone else with your name, it’s like your identity got stolen.
What’s probably going to happen next is, something might happen causing the relationship between Cornelia and her father to tighten a bit.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book because I wants to know what happen to Cornelia later on. It seems that Cornelia are in a hopeless situation, her family’s broke, and I’m curious about how she mange to hold on. And I admire the way she could still stay calm in such situation, it’s something I want to learn.