It’s time for #6degrees. It’s unquestionably the least demanding bookish meme on the interwebs, so join in!
This month we begin with Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (thanks to Brona for the suggestion). My first link is to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run. That might seem an unlikely link but I’ve seen Springsteen twice in the last few years, and both times Hanging Rock was the backdrop. Continue reading
I continued my theme of reading ‘art thrillers’* with The Muse by Jessie Burton.
The story begins in 1967, in London, where Odelle Bastien, a budding writer from Trinidad, gets a job as a typist at a well-known art gallery. Her boss, the elegant Marjorie Quick, takes a special interest in Odelle and her writing. Meanwhile, Odelle meets Lawrie Scott, a young man who has inherited a mysterious painting – the masterpiece, Quick believes, of a Spanish artist called Isaac Robles.
The history of the painting takes the story to a village in southern Spain in 1936, where Olive Schloss is living with her art dealer father and her glamorous but troubled mother. Although Olive is a painter of considerable talent, her father dismisses women as artists.
“Was the difference between being a workaday painter and being an artist simply other people believing in you, or spending twice as much money on your work? As far as Olive saw it, this connection of masculinity with creativity had been conjured from the air and been enforced, legitimised and monetised by enough people for whom such a state of affairs was convenient – men like her father.” Continue reading
I’ve been wondering if ‘art-thriller’ is a genre… I’m thinking books such as What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and my latest read, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. Why does the art world make such a good backdrop for fiction? Perhaps because it involves creativity, big personalities, money, glamour, sacrifice and poverty? Or maybe I’m over-thinking it and creating tenuous links between these books…?
A rare painting, titled ‘At the Edge of the Wood’, provides the link between three separate places, times and characters in this tightly told cat-and-mouse story. The painting is by Sara de Vos, a Dutch artist of the Golden Age and the first woman to be accepted as a Master painter into the Guild. Fast forward to New York in the late fifties, when the painting hangs on millionaire Marty de Groot’s bedroom wall. Meanwhile, struggling Australian doctorate student, Ellie Shipley, is living in Brooklyn and making ends meet by doing art restoration work…and a forgery. Smith brings the story to the present day where, at an art exhibition in Sydney, the pasts of Sara, Marty and Ellie collide. Continue reading
On paper, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, has all the hallmarks of a great story (for me, anyway) – the eighties, New York, and the interwoven lives of a group of people (who you soon discover are all connected to the blossoming Soho art-scene). While the book didn’t quite meet my neon-bright-skyscraper-high expectations, it was certainly a good read.
The story is centered around three main characters – James Bennett, an art critic; Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past; and Lucy Olliason, a small-town beauty and Raul’s muse. There are other important characters – an influential gallery owner, James’s wife, a lost boy, and Raul’s sister but the story is predominantly told from three points-of-view.
The character of James is spectacular and fantastically odd. He has a condition known as synesthesia, which means the things he sees and feels, significantly art, are translated to colours and smells.
“…a brain in which a word was transformed into a color, where an image was manufactured into a bodily sensation, where applesauce tasted like sadness and winter was the colour blue…” Continue reading
I have some April and May ARCs in my TBR stack – which one should I read first? Continue reading
2016, the year of buying no books, does not mean the year of no new releases for me. Bless you and your generosity, publishers.
Here are ten ARCs hovering near the top of my staggering TBR stack –
Onward I go with the Christmas in Summer reading challenge (Hot Little Hands won the last round and it’s next on my reading list) – this time I’m picking from books that are soon-to-be-released. These ARCs are doing the rounds – which one should I read first?
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
- The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr
- Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack
- Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss
- The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie