"All of this is introduced not as dry context but as high drama. Working closely with Colonna’s letters and poems, Ms. Targoff gives her the vividness of a fictional protagonist . . . In Ms. Targoff’s hands, she emerges as a fully human mix of ambition, desire and shame . . . Ms. Targoff’s erudite and lively biography will spur scholars and publishers to place more of her poems and letters into the hands of readers, to judge her legacy for themselves.”
Targoff paints Vittoria Colonna as an embodiment of the Italian Renaissance in this enjoyable narrative, noting Colonna’s intense religiosity and role as the first published female Italian poet . . . [She] provides several helpful translations of Colonna’s poems, accompanied by clear explications of her struggles with mourning and spirituality, which her letters also documented . . . [This] well-researched, thoughtful biography reveals Colonna as a complex woman who turned grief and a spiritual quest into a renowned literary reputation.
"Vittoria Colonna’s name has always been there, hovering in the wings, but with Ramie Targoff’s vibrant, timely study, “Renaissance Woman,” she comes into the spotlight...[In] Targoff’s hands the bits of [Colonna's] puzzle fit together beautifully. Here is a woman capable of deep, almost obsessional feeling, with an equal capacity to put those feelings into poetry...Vittoria Colonna has always deserved to be better known. Ramie Targoff’s fine book will surely make that happen."
"Ramie Targoff’s Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna is a biography, but it’s also one of those books that dissects an entire culture. A close friend of Michelangelo, and the first woman poet ever to be published in Italy, Vittoria Colonna was both an extraordinary outlier and a woman who still chafed against the confines of the era."