In the course of my research for Connectedness, I have found some wonderful novels and non-fiction about art, artists, paintings, sculpture and creativity. Here are some of my favourites.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Buy nowNot a novel about artists, but about the power of art over one 13-year old boy. Theo Decker is caught in a bombing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art during which his mother is killed, he sees a red-haired girl and becomes obsessed by her, and he steals a painting. The Goldfinch is the story of what happens to Theo and how his triple obsessions dominate his life. Won the Pulitzer in 2014. One of my all-time favourites. Currently in development as a film.
Read my review here.
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier Buy nowMore than two million copies sold worldwide, a film starring Colin Firth and a translucent Scarlett Johansson, do not detract from the brilliance of this novel. Tracy Chevalier says she now feels like a totally different writer from the one who wrote this novel. A story of a painter, his household, a maid and 17th century Holland. I was most captivated by the details of Vermeer’s painting technique and the portrayal of the town of Delft.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant Buy nowFlorence, the 1490s. A vivid portrayal of life in this Italian city in the Renaissance. It is a guide to art, the smell of the paint seeps off the page. It is the story of 14-year old Alessandra who longs to paint but who is married very young to man much older than she. Fascinating about the art of that period.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland Buy nowAnother novel about Vermeer. The structure of this is unusual in that instead of a continuous narrative, it tells the stories of the people who owned the painting, starting in current times and working back. The last story is about the Vermeer family and the daughter who sat for the painting.
Read my review here.
How to be Both by Ali Smith Buy nowA multi-award winner, How to Be Both won the Bailey’s Prize in 2014 and Goldsmiths Prizes in 2015 and was nominated for the 2015 Booker.
Two stories are inter-linked, one about George, a modern young woman grieving for her mother, the second about the painting of a Renaissance fresco by Francesco del Cossa. What’s the link? The mother loved the fresco and so the daughter attempts to identify the painter. Time is elastic. To complicate things for the reader, this book was printed in two versions: one started with George’s version first, the other started with Francesco. My version was the latter. A novel that rewards multiple readings.
Read my review here
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