Friday, November 11, 2011
It's that time of year when the new book lists are with us and it is time to anticipate reading by the fireplace. I was looking over a number of books I've read over the past year and decided it was an especially good year for art books and books whose story line involved art in some way. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy Ken Follett's Fall of Giants (and I'm looking forward to the story continuing in the next volume.) I'll probably read Catherine the Great this next year- but art did come into a lot of my favourites of last year. Barbara Kingslover's Lacuna would certainly be near the top of the list- if not at the top. Freda Kahlo is in there as part of the story but there is a lot of depth to the book beyond that. I liked The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland - but not as much as some of her other books and I felt the touch of romance would not have been true to the type of person Emily Carr was. A number of readers were not as enthusiastic about her Clara and Mr.Tiffany but I thought it was good in how it showed the era and the setting and felt any detail about stained glass making *was* essential to the story. The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein was an excellent read about a real-life artist who was the first western-style artist from China. Well written and well-researched. Lots of incidental history in there too. More history in Madonnas of Leningrad (Debra Dean)as well as capturing some of the dementia of the aging lead character. Steve Martin, who is a very knowledgeable art collector, did a great job on capturing the crazy art action of modern day New York in An Object of Beauty. The Ghost Brush (Katherine Govver) was about the daughter of Hokusai - another excellent read. The painter in Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves was imaginary but set in the real world of impressionistic painters - and a good story too. I hope I find some more good books this year! The painting was done a couple of years ago in Gail's attic and the model got hooked on The Other Boleyn Girl while posing for us.