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Picturing a World

Käsebier’s Sketch

Although “Anonymity” is stalled at the moment (I’m writing an unrelated novella), images that belong to my heroine Mattie’s world draw me back into it. Both the beauty of this photograph and the earnestness of the artist would, I think, appeal to a wistfully idealistic side of Mattie. Although she works in the pulp end of publishing, she also fosters young talent and encourages writers and artists to strive for their best. Read More 

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Critiques

Harold Harvey, who studied at the Académie Julian, was a second-generation painter at England’s Newlyn art colony in Cornwall. Although this painting is from a later period than the heyday of the  Read More 

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Eye and ear

Blog tip: A post at Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor, Storytelling: the eye and the ear, quotes other writers on the relation between sound and the written word. It is illustrated by several images of women reading by various artists, all of them new to me. A quiet, thoughtful meditation on the arts we love at a time when the world seems anxious and sour. Check it out. Read More 

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Whistler's Cloud cabinet

To prepare for my September 27th talk on Where the Light Falls and Prevention’s list of 55 Happy Books Proven to Boost Your Mood, I reread my novel and found myself wondering what images might be available now that were not when I was researching. Well, this one is splendid! I had used written descriptions of the yellow-and-gold room that Whistler designed for the Paris World’s Fair of 1878, the room that makes Jeanette long to move from drawing to painting, the room that inspires Cousin Effie to cut free from New York decorum in thinking about interior fashions. Read More 

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Gertrude Fiske

Blog tip: It's almost too late to catch a show of Gertrude Fiske's work at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Historical Society, but James' Gurney's blog post at least introduced me to this accomplished painter. Doesn't this image invite musing on what the story might be?

For more of Fiske's work, click here.  Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (5): Love

The categories of friendship and love inevitably blend into each other: we love our friends and hope our lovers will be our soul mates. But they can also be considered separately; and so although women’s friendships were very much a conscious motif for me while I was writing Where the Light Falls, so was the nature of love. Late in the novel, Cousin Effie says, “We are made to love and be loved, lots of different ways.” Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (4): Friendship

“When I see girls of seventeen, it makes me think once I, too, was a maiden in Grenelle.” So goes the first verse of the lyrics to Aristide Bruant’s song “A Grenelle.” Jeanette is nineteen at the start of Where the Light Falls, but she walks to the Académie Julian with friends every morning, so I loved coming across this picture by Steinlen. While I was writing, I very much wanted my art students’ friendship to be central to the story because I have loved reading books about girls’ and women’s friendships ever since I was in second grade reading Betsy-Tacy to myself. Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (3): Skill

West with the Night by Beryl Markham is the first title on Prevention’s list of 55 Happy Books Proven to Boost Your Mood. What a pleasure to be reminded of that  Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (2): Place

One way a book can make you happy is to transport you from your armchair to someplace else altogether. It helps, of course, for the place to be somewhere you’d like to visit (exposés need not apply). From Prevention’s list of 55 happy books, I’ll point to Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon as books that make you adore being in France. Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (1): Food

In response to the appearance of Where the Light Falls on Prevention Magazine’s list of 55 Happy Books Proven To Boost Your Mood, I was invited to speak at my local public library on September 27th. It seemed a good idea to talk about the book in relation to the list—but that raised the question, just what is a happy book? I decided to tease out common threads among some of the titles and examine the extent to which I was conscious of each factor as I wrote. First topic: Food.  Read More 

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