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Elegantly conceived and tenderly written, this cameo of a novel ushers readers into a small, warmly lit corner of art history. Inspired by five Mary Cassatt paintings of Cassatt's older sister, Lydia, Chessman (Ohio Angels) paints her own intimate portrait of the admirable Lydia, chronicling Lydia's thoughts and feelings as she models for Mary in Paris in the late 1870s and early 1880s. All the while, Lydia is conscious that she is dying of Bright's disease, and her thoughtful contemplation of her life and dashed hopes give shape to the tale. Lydia, who is in her 40s, never married the man she loved was killed in the Civil War but she reveals a sharp, sophisticated awareness of desire in her observations of her sister Mary (May), and May's lover, the painter Edgar Degas. Chessman sees May as vividly as she does Lydia, describing her as a live wire, a woman with outsize ambitions for her times, but also as a devoted sister. Chessman's prose can be obvious and overcareful "I think May's sadness, when she heard my diagnosis, was increased by her memory of earlier sorrows" but her instinctive understanding of the sisters' relationship and her thoughtful description of their studio collaborations elevate this understated effort. The five paintings, beautifully reproduced, appear at intervals and acquire new depth even as they enrich Chessman's story. 4-city author tour. (Nov. 1)Forecast: Published in an unusual joint venture by Seven Stories and the Permanent Press, this title the #1 BookSense pick for November/December is attracting much early attention. The small trim size and glossy art inserts make it an appealing gift book, and it's a safe bet that holiday sales will be strong. U.S. paperback rights to Plume; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Greece, Italy and Australia/New Zealand.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
As you read Chessman's second novel (after Ohio Angels), be prepared for an insightful and moving tale about a great American painter and her family. Here is the poignant story of Lydia, Mary Cassatt's sister, who details the important role she played in the creation of Cassatt's early Impressionist paintings. Each chapter centers on a painting by Mary that involves Lydia, and the narrative offers wonderful insight into Cassatt's bold life and her relationships with artists such as Renoir, Caillebotte, and especially Degas. Though Lydia is fighting a horrible battle against Bright's disease, she continues to pose for her sister and to live her life with courage and dignity. As Degas observes to Lydia, "You show me how to live, if only I could do it as you do." A special treat is the inclusion of color plates of famed Cassatt works like "Lydia Crocheting in the Garden." Like Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring (LJ 10/15/99), this book beautifully limns the impact of art on a woman close to a great artist though the women involved are very different. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. Vicki Cecil, Hartford City P.L., IN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The cover of this book was originally what caught my eye, since I had purchased a Mary Cassatt calendar at one time and found her paintings to be very personal and familial. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2009 by bohobeachgirl
This was an interesting book. I found it interesting to see the story through the eyes of Lydia Cassatt. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004 by MissyLynne
Just a sweet and simple book about sisterly love and having to face one's own mortality. Lots of metaphoric prose and colorful descriptions. Read morePublished on July 25 2003
This is an extraordinarily moving and beautifully written novel. Chessman takes the reader somewhere new: to the inner life of a famous painter and her dying sister. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2003
I was a huge fan of Tracy Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earring", so I was most interested to read Harriet Chessman's novel about Mary Cassatt and her sister Lydia - the... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2002 by E. Rothstein
If you aren't one of the many who adore Mary Cassatt's paintings, this book won't interest you at all. Read morePublished on June 5 2002 by Amazon Customer
This novel is a recent example of the trend in using an artist's life or body of works to create work of fiction. Read morePublished on April 6 2002 by Lover of Mysteries
In the tradition of Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, Harriet Chessman Scott has fashioned a fictional account of how six... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2002 by Nancy R. Katz