Monday, June 30, 2014

Artists in Novels

Since the publication of Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Girl with a Pearl Earring, historical fiction about art and artists has remained popular. The following titles are just a few examples of novels featuring artists.

Sunflowers, by Sheramy Bundrick is about the relationship between Vincent Van Gogh and a prostitute named Rachel, who becomes his model and his love during the final two years of his life.

The Passion of Artemisia, by Susan Vreeland features lesser-known 17th –century artist Artemisia Gentileschi, the first woman elected to the Accademia dell’Arte in Florence. Vreeland’s other novels are also about artists and their work, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Vermeer) and Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir).

I Am Madame X, by Gioia Diliberto is a fictional memoir of Virginie Gautreau, the model for John Singer Sargent’s painting, Portrait of Madame X, which is featured on the book cover.

American 19th-century painter Mary Cassatt’s work is the subject of Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, by Harriet Scott Chessman. Lydia, Mary’s older sister who was dying of Bright's Disease, was the model for a series of paintings reproduced in this novel.

The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal imagines the background story of Rembrandt’s first masterpiece, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp.

These titles and many more, including novels about Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci, are available in our fiction collection. Please ask a reference librarian for more recommendations.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What we're reading now! {June}

In a new addition to our little blog here, we thought it would be fun if we shared with you what it is we are following from month to month. Could be books, could be movies, could be crafts or games. So as we roll through this hot summer, here's what we're read reading now!

Chris: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

As a child of the 80's and a guy who plays a lot of video games, I'm suggested this book often. It's 2044 and the world is basically falling apart. There are no jobs, less food, and even less space to live. The only solace many people have is in a virtual world called OASIS. Both the real and online worlds are sent into a frenzy when the game's creator James Halliday passes away and leaves his multibillion dollar estate and fortune to the one who can solve his game within OASIS by finding his three keys which open three gates. Five years pass with nobody finding a clue and people begin to question if there was really a contest at all.
Until an unassuming student named Wade finds the first clue and is ranked on the world leader board. Now it becomes a race as he's thrust into the limelight and now pitted against his friends, idols, and people very willing to kill to get ahead. So now, just to survive Wade needs to use his knowledge of Halliday's passion for 80's pop culture and video games to get the jump on the rest of the world to be the first to find Halliday's easter egg. The entire world is an MMO (massively multiplayer online game), everyone in it is a player, and the real world is the prize. But when push comes to shove, is it really what Wade wants?

This one can feel like fan-fiction at times but the story is fun and really starts to sprint to the finish as you read along. Its a little thick with references but ultimately it was very fun to read.

Gina: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Set in a small town in the Ozark Mountains, The Weight of Blood tells the story of Lucy Dane, a seventeen-year-old who is searching for the truth behind two mysteries: the brutal murder of her friend, Cheri, and the disappearance of her mother when Lucy was a baby.

The story is told from alternating points of view, including Lucy; her mother, Lila; and several other main characters. At first I found this confusing, since the chapters narrated by Lila are set in the time before Lucy was born, so that the plot is not chronological. But telling the story this way allows the reader to feel more involved and to better understand the characters. Since Lucy never really knew her mother, the author allows Lila to tell her own story, and we learn much more about Lucy’s father and uncle from her point of view. As Lucy’s investigation broadens, she learns that there may be a connection between the two cases, and those closest to her may not be who they seem.

This is a suspenseful debut novel with fascinating characters and a descriptive setting. I look forward to her next book.

Jane:  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

There is an anonymous quote that says "when a butterfly flaps it's wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world."  This is what happens when Dellarobia Turnbow finds a mountaintop covered in monarch butterflies in rural Tennessee.  Somehow the butterflies have gotten off their natural course.  Is it an act of God or is it global warming?  Whatever the cause, it is bringing scientists, environmentalists and gawkers to Dellarobia's mountain and creating havoc with her family.   Dellarobia's father-in-law wants to clear cut the mountain, for much needed money.  Her mother-in-law, Hester, is sure it's a spiritual sign.  For Dellarobia, the butterflies signify her desire to get something more out of life.

Kingsolver is a wonderful writer.  She brings people and places to life and subtly educates the reader.