The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: art history

A Fine Imitation

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Thanks to The Library Thing, I had the opportunity to read A Fine Imitation (B) by Amber Brock. Set in Manhattan in the 1920’s, the reader is drawn into the life of a socialite.

When we first meet Vera, she’s a senior at Vassar College studying art history. This in itself sets her apart from other young women of her age. Most of her peers are married or preparing to get married. She is serious about art and is even more serious about doing well in college. She has been reclusive while studying there until she meets Brea. She and Vera become unlikely friends despite the mystery surrounding Brea’s transfer to Vassar.

Vera’s life is full of rules and expectations. She is soon to become engaged to a man ten years older than she. His wealth will allow her to maintain the only life she has known. Brea’s approach to life is very different. When Vera and Brea become involved in a bit of college scandal, Vera is tempted to follow her heart and live her own life. Her very convincing and dominant mother will not allow that to happen.

Ten years later, a mysterious stranger tempts Vera again. Emil Hallan is hired to paint a mural in the poolroom of the very prestigious building she lives in. Lost in a loveless marriage, she discovers her true self in Emil’s arms, a man she knows nothing about. What choices will she make this time?

Amber Brock paints an exceptionally well-detailed portrait of the life of a socialite. On the surface it appears as the most coveted position in life. In reality, it’s more like a prison. Alternating between the past and present the story flows unraveling mysteries as you go along. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel devouring it in a day and I’m sure you will feel the same.

The Gravity of Birds

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Thank you Book Browse for introducing me to another new author, Tracy Guzeman and The Gravity of Birds (B+).

Its 1963, the Kessler’s are vacationing at their lakeside cottage. Usually, the family’s summer is spent relaxing by the water. This year things are different. They have a new neighbor, Thomas Bayber who is using his cottage as an artist studio. With his open and friendly ways, he becomes a distraction for Natalie, 17 and fourteen year old Alice, a distraction that will forever changes their lives.

Fast-forward to 2007, Thomas Bayber has not painted for over 20 years. In 1972, after much success as an artist, he suddenly stopped painting. Unable to care for himself or his finances, he lives in pretty poor conditions. Ill and nearing the end of his life, he summons his friend and confidant, Professor Dennis Finch revealing to him a painting that no one has ever seen. It is a portrait of the Kessler sisters painted the summer of 1963. Before this newly discovered piece is sold, it must be authenticated. At the request of Bayber, Finch employs the help of Stephen Jameson a young art historian who is down on his luck.

Guzeman weaves an incredible tale alternating chapters between past and present. She slowly unravels the deeply complicated story of Natalie and Alice while linking the other characters to them. I enjoyed this pace because it allowed me to digest each new bit of information and integrate it with what I already knew. The characterization was well delivered and the story captivating. It’s been awhile since I haven’t wanted a book to end but The Gravity of Birds made sad when it was done.  I hope you mark this book, as one to read. You will not be disappointed.