About A Piece of the World• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 21, 2017)
"Graceful, moving and powerful.” --Michael Chabon, New York Times bestselling author of Moonglow
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.
"Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."
To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.
As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists. Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy. This edition includes a four-color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World.
About Christina Baker KlineChristina Baker Kline is the author of five novels. She lives outside of New York City and on the coast of Maine. Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
I was so excited when I received the ARC of A Piece of the World. It was like Christmas! I absolutely love Andrew Wyeth's art, so to read a novel based on his iconic painting Christina's World was truly a treat. I've always been fascinated about Wyeth's chosen medium: egg tempera. I've never tried it before, but many of the old masters used this method: It makes paintings look ethereal.
Egg Tempera on Panel
"There she is, that girl, on a planet of grass. Her wants or simple: to tilt her face to the sun and feel its warmth. To clutch the earth beneath her fingers. To escape from and return to the house she was born in."
pp. 304 - 305
Although I enjoyed Orphan Train immensely, Christina's World is better written. Christina's world is literally small due to her disability. Now, neurologists think she may have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. This inherited condition damages the nerves and affects movement. You can read more about this disease and Christina's story HERE. I am not a fan of Christina's bitterness as a jilted spinster. She was prideful to a fault and unforgiving. However, viewing her through Andrew Wyeth's eyes I understand her better. By the end of the book I feel neither disdain nor pity for her.
Egg Tempera on Panel
"What she wants most~ what she truly yearns for~ is what any of us want: to be seen."
Christina's mother was a Hathorn, a descendent of one of the Salem Witch Trial's prosecutors. I enjoyed reading about her family history and the family dynamic of the Olson household. Wyeth's wife Betsy befriended Christina when she was a child, and their relationship is sweet from the beginning. When Wyeth first comes to their little corner of Maine, Betsy knows where to take him for beautiful views and eggs to mix with his pigments: the Olson Farm. Although this is Christina's story, Andrew Wyeth drifts in and out of the house like the ghosts of the Salem witches Brigit Bishop promised would haunt the Hathorn family forever. This disappointed me slightly, but Kline does a fantastic job of describing Wyeth's creative process.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys books about art, artists, family drama, and a New England setting.
Egg Tempera on Panel
This is a portrait of Christina's brother Alvaro Olson. He didn't like to pose for Wyeth.
I received a copy of A Piece of the World from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Until next time...