Genre: childrens, historical, fantasy
Original language: Swedish
Translations: Italian, Dutch
Lydia is twelve and lives with her parents in Stockholm. She is crazy about art and can draw incredibly well.
One day Lydia is sketching in the park, when a bird steals her pencil. She is so flustered that she forgets her sketchbook in the park. When she returns the next day someone has written a message in it: 18 september, 15.00 hours.
The unknown messenger turns out to be a boy who tells her to 'take good care of her hands, because they are very special'. Lydia doesn't really know what to think of this.
The next day she visits the national museum with her grandfather. When Lydia accidently touches a painting by Rembrandt, she disappears into a black hole. She wakes up in the world of Rembrandt, the year 1658. The only thing Julia has with her, are her sketchbook and her pencil.
This is the beginning of an amazing journey through the world of art. Lydia meets famous artists like Velázquez, Leonardo da Vinci, Edgard Degas, William Turner en Salvador Dalí. From every artist Lydia learns something new.
But how does she get back to the 21st century? The secret is in Lydia's hands...
Lydia's Secret has been described as Sophie's World about art history. I really enjoyed Sophie's World, so the comparisson made me curious about this book as well. While reading this book I definitely noticed some similarities between the two books, both have a curious Swedish girl as the main character and both books are fiction but include information on a certain topic. However, there are also some differences. Lydia's Secret focusses more on the adventure Lydia is having and the magical aspect to it, whereas in Sophie's World the deliverance of information on philosophy is more prominent. This makes Lydia's Secret accesible for a younger audience, since the educational aspect is not too prominent. The book also reminded me a little of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, where things can escape from books and can enter them, and Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman, where a boy travels back in time and accidently ends up in the time of the crusades.
From every painter Lydia meets you learn what age he lived in, what kind of life he lead, distinct personality traits and some aspects of his paintings that stand out. Personally I'm fascinated by Leonardo da Vinci, so I would have loved to read a little more about him, but for others who might not be as interested the amount of information might have been enough. I think overal there was a nice balance between information and entertainment.The painters only appeared in the book for a short while, but they definitely had distinct personalities. Almost all of the painters immediately take Lydia with her eventhough they hardly know her, and this was the only part of the book that felt a little unrealistic. When she wore strange clothes and said she was from the future I would have thought that the painters would think her truely crazy, but instead they were all easily convinced she wasn't that crazy after all.
I think Lydia's character could have been a little more well-rounded, because I still feel like all I know about her is that she loves to draw and loves her grandfather, but I did like the relationship she had with her grandfather and how adventurous the story was.
Lydia travels to the time of a certain painter by touching one of his paintings. At first it seemed a little cliché, but when it was mentioned that because of this she could only travel backwards in time (because at a certain time she can only encounter paintings that have been painted before that time) I truely felt like the author really thought the traveling in time trough.