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Recent Historical Fiction About Art & Artists


Recent Historical Fiction About Art & Artists
Bethany BooksTalk, April 8, 2022
Chery B. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

The Age of Light (2019)
by Whitney Scharer (Scharer)

Vogue model Lee Miller pursues a career behind the camera. By moving to Paris in 1929, her careers shifts when she meets surrealist painter and photographer Man Ray. He discovers her skills in creating artistic photos. Their tortured relationship is laced with endless liquor and shared creativity, eventually ending in mutual betrayal by 1932. Miller’s aspirations led to her photojournalism, eventually covering the Blitz of London and World War II for Conde Naste publications.

The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb (2021)
by Gill Paul (Paul)

Eve Brograve, daughter of Lord Carnarven, has vivid memories of opening King Tut’s tomb, despite having a stroke in 1972. Archeologist Ana Mansur contacts her, and their search for new information leads through the people, events and aftermath of Carnarven’s partnership with Howard Carter. Flashbacks to 1919 lead the reader through high society expectations and a true great love, as well as the experience of Egypt: the Nile and the Valley of Kings.

Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch (2021)
by Rivka Galchen (Galchen)

Set in 1618, Johannes Kepler is already the Imperial Mathematician of Emperor Rudolph in Prague. His mother, Katharina, still lives in Wurttemberg, however, where she is a skill herbalist. She relies on traditional remedies, gaining her reputation — and notoriety — through word-of-mouth. One of her remedies goes wrong for the wife of a local official, and she is prosecuted for witchcraft. Based on the records of Katharina’s trial, is novel is colloquial, moody and sly.

The Henna Artist (2020)
by Alka Joshi (CALL)

30-year-old Lakshmi is finding her way in 1966 Jaipur. Eight years earlier, India had gained its independence from Britain, providing a mix of opportunities for its people. As a henna artist to the wealth, Lakshmi has a loyal, well-paying clientele, and she influences their society through gossip and connections. She has saved enough to design and build her own house. Suddenly, Hari, the abusive husband she left over a decade before, shows up with a younger sister she didn’t know she had. Sensuous details and irresistible intrigue abound in this novel.

The Last Mona Lisa (2021)
by Jonathan Santlofer (Santlofer)

When Vincenzo Peruggio stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, he set off disputes that still live today. In this book, Luke Perrone is his fictitious great-grandson who seeks Peruggia’s journal to satisfy personal needs and international questions. The story is fast-paced with multiple points of view, including that of investigator Smith and criminals who want the journal suppressed. The lyrical entries of Peruggia’s heart-breaking journal, however, may reveal his motives.

The Lost Notebook of Edouard Manet (2021)
by Maureen Gibbon (Gibbon)

Written as a fictitious journal by the impressionist painter, the story begins in 1880 as his health begins to deteriorate. His observations are too beautiful to be sad as “he” records the simple pleasures of life: flowers in vases, cows in the neighboring pasture, his doctor’s face. Manet’s memories of love and admiration of women shine in this unique and beautiful novel that shows how Manet’s urge to paint continued even through his final days.

Palace of the Drowned (2021)
by Christine Mangan (Mangan)

Frankie Croy travels to Venice hoping to find rest and inspiration for her next novel. Her best girlfriend Jack has provided her family’s historical palazzo for Frankie’s stay, although she can’t find time to join her. Enter Gilly, a younger woman who appears one day in a city market, claiming to be Frankie’s old family friend. Mysterious events abound, to the multiple “dead-ends” she finds in the cit6y. This novel is “Poe-esque”.

The Riviera House
by Natasha Lester (Lester)

Eliane is an art student at the Louvre in 1939. As the Germans enter Poland, then France, she finds herself helping hide pieces of art from Hitler’s officers, who wish to keep them for themselves. Fast forward to the south of France in 2015, where Remy has retreated after the death of her husband and daughter in a car accident. She finds a mysterious painting in the house she is renting. Later, as she is moving a box, she also finds a book called Le Catalogue Goering, which includes that very painting. What is the connection?