When Susanna Dallett throws her philandering husband's mending into the fire, she doesn't realize she is on the verge of an entirely new life. For years she has painted hands and draperies in her husband's famous portraits, prepared his brushes and mixed his colors.
Now she enters into forging copies of his works for pocket money, and when he is killed by an aggrieved husband, she finds she is in possession of a career of her own, that of paintrix in the luxurious court of the infamous Cardinal Wolsey.
Shipped to France for the wedding of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's younger sister, to the elderly king of France, she is among the English contingent abandoned to their fate when the old king dies. Alone and broke in a strange country, Susanna relies on her wit and talent, with an occasional assist from the eccentric and rather forgetful Angel of Art, to forge a new and happy future.
The adventures of a woman miniature painter caught in the dynastic intrigues of Henry VIII and his arch-rival, Francis I.