First sentence: Mary Cassatt lifted two shallow crates of assorted brushes, pigments, palettes, and scraping knives and set them atop the paint-smeared table shoved under the arched, north-facing windows of her untidy studio.
Premise/plow: Love art? Love history? Love art history? Don't require much actual-actual romance in your your historical romance? I Always Loved You is a fictionalized account of the friendship between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. It isn't their story alone--it is the story of a group of artists, an artistic movement. The novel opens in 1877 and closes in 1926.
My thoughts: Impressionism is my absolute favorite art style/period. (Renoir is my FAVORITE AND BEST). I was intrigued by this one, I was, and not just by the premise. I liked looking at the bigger picture--how these people fit into each other's lives, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of artists, for better or worse. And sometimes it was worse. Tempers could be lost; tantrums be thrown. Each person seemed fully obsessed with THE ART, always, only the art. Perhaps with the exception of our narrator, Mary. Mary seemed to actually care equally about people and art.
I thought the novel was beautifully written in places.
- Only paint was honest. But even a painting could be wiped clean and refined. (5)
- "Degas provokes and reveals our prejudices. Wouldn't you like to be good enough to unsettle someone in this same way one day?" (14)
- "Paris is the sanctuary of art," Abigail said. "And it's battleground," Mary said, kissing her friend once more. "The place where artists live or die." (17)
- "You've painted love," Edgar said. "You must always paint love. You must never paint anything else. You have found it. Your obsession is love." He was right. Here was love--light and color and affection sprung from her brush, desire, and innocence in every stroke, and something more, something real, something absolute. A moment passed, and then another, "And what of you? What will you paint?" Mary said. "I will paint what is real." "And love is not real?" "It is when you paint it," he said. (234)
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews