Sunday 22 December 2013

My List of Fiction Books for Art Lovers


This is a list of fictional books I have read featureing artists and painters is some guise. Some take centre stage , while some use it as a backdrop but is still a relevant part of the story and of interest to anyone interested in art and painting. I will add more as I discover them!
Please feel free to add to my list as I am always on the look out for other books featuring artists.

The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

17th Century Holland. When Griet becomes a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer in the town of Delft, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry and the care of his six children. But as she becomes part of his world and his work, their growing intimacy spreads tension and deception in the ordered household and, as the scandal seeps out, into the town beyond.

My Musings
Beautiful story of the relationship between the artist and an unlikely muse. Tender, visually stunning and romantic.

Paris in Winter by Imogen Robinson

A deep, dark and opulent tale of Belle Époque Paris, and the secrets and dangers hidden beneath its luxurious façade.
My Musings
I am not going to lie, this is a book I have not read yet but can't wait to. Superficially love the cover but the story looks great and love this era. Has had good reviews so couldn't resist putting it on!

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach


The Amsterdam of the early 17th century has been forever immortalised by the serene, precise domestic realism of the canvases of Vermeer and Rembrandt. Deborah Moggach's novel Tulip Fever gives this time a compelling fictional twist. Set in 1630s Amsterdam, it begins with a typical Renaissance love triangle: a wealthy, elderly merchant, Cornelis Sandvoort, his beautiful but frustrated young wife Sophia and the painter who enters their life, Jan van Loos. Commissioned to paint the happy couple's portrait, Jan becomes embroiled in a series of emotional and financial speculations which are to change the character's lives forever. Interspersed with 16 beautifully reproduced Dutch paintings, Tulip Fever is a delightfully conceived story which offers a new dimension to what really goes on within the apparently placid domestic interiors of such canvases.
My Musings
For those who loved Girl With a Pearl Earring. Very evocative, passionate and interesting historical content about the age. Also lovely colour pictures of paintings, which is very unusual in fiction book.


The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff

A forbidden love, a life-long secret, and one chance to make the right decision. Ella has always been an artist, jotting down pictures from a young age, and now in her thirties she has made it her profession. When Ella's younger sister Chloe asks her to paint a portrait of her new fiance Nate, Ella is reluctant. He is a brash American who Ella thinks has proposed far too fast, so the thought of spending many hours alone with him fills her with dread. But before long Ella realises there is more to Nate than meets the eye. Beautifully inter-weaving the stories of Ella's sitters - from the old lady with a wartime secret, to the handsome politician who has a confession to make - with Ella's own hunt for her real father and slow realization that she is falling in love with the wrong man.
My Musings
Set around a portrait artists and her sitters a great insight into the intimacy that can evolve from these sitttings and a really good holiday read and gift.

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

RoNA Best Epic Romantic Novel 2013, Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read 2012, and shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2013.

'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.'

When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?
My Musings
This book features the artist as Rose's long lost father whom she goes to find. It is more about Rose and her getting out of a very bad situation and rebonding with her father. However it also goes on to describe well how obsessive and selfish artists can be!! A really good read.

The Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb

A spellbinding tale about the power of love, the danger of obsession, and the unfaithful nature of memory. A Half Forgotten Song is by turns haunting, heartbreaking and joyous.

1937. In a village on the Dorset coast, fourteen-year-old Mitzy Hatcher has endured a wild and lonely upbringing, until the arrival of renowned artist Charles Aubrey-along with his exotic mistress and their daughters-changes everything. Over the next three summers, Mitzy sees a future she had never thought possible, and a powerful love is kindled in her. A love that grows from innocence to obsession; from childish infatuation to something far more complex. Years later, a young man in an art gallery looks at a hastily-drawn portrait and wonders at its intensity. The questions he asks lead him to a Dorset village and to the truth about those fevered summers in the 1930s.

My musings
This is loosely based on the artist Augustus John I believe. A very dark but brilliant tale of obsession.

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Set in the Paris it tells the story of three sisters, one of whom becomes the model for Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. A Darkly Beautiful read on theatre life in The Belle Epoque. 
My Musings 
A Darkly Beautiful read on theatre life in The Belle Epoque. For a Full Review click here

An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay


An outstanding debut about a love affair between artists that endures professional rivalry, alcoholism and betrayal
My Musings.
Totally forgot about this book until I was tidying up my bookshelf. I remember it being deeply evocative and the wonderful descriptions of time and place were haunting. Definately a great gift for a lover of art, spain and beautiful prose. 
Some more reviews below.
'An Equal Stillness is pitch perfect. Kay describes Mallow's painting with an arresting intensity' (Eithne Farry DAILY MAIL)

An enchanting life story... Exquisitely written: the descriptions of Jennet's work, paintings that never existed and the descriptions of colour are breathtaking. (DAILY EXPRESS)

it's the freshness of the prose, the insightfulness of the author, that makes this a very special book... A startlingly accomplished debut. (newbooks magazine)

a masterful portrait of a woman forging an unexpectedly dazzling career against the backdrop of familial duty (EASY LIVING)

Kay writes about art with a wonderful sensuality and relish (THE TIMES)

Kay's writing is beautifully intense (FINANCIAL TIMES)

a compelling, vivid portrait (THE GUARDIAN)

Francesca Kay's impressive first novel is a fictional biography... The descriptions of artworks are remarkable. Colour is evoked with amazing subtlety. (THE INDEPENDENT)

the most beautiful, accomplished debut I have read for a long time... It is a powerful novel by a supremely talented artist. (Francesca Segal THE OBSERVER)

the author successfully shares with us her delight in the world. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

This is a story of genius amid domesticity that will resonate with readers on a fundamental level. We're thrilled to recommend this book and are excited to see what Francesca Kay does next (Mishal Husain Orange Chair of Judges, BBC World News presenter)

Ms Kay has an unusual ability to ignite the imagination. A passion for art and a gift for depicting the landscape of paint are what make the book stand out. (THE ECONOMIST)

Francesca Kay has won this year's Orange Award for New Writers and a real star has stepped on to the stage... Lyrical, sensual, sharp - this is the most impressive contemporary novel I have read for years. (A.N. Wilson READERS DIGEST)

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