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Black & Whiteby Dani Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Family History ("Poised, absorbing...a bona fide page turner" The New York Times Book Review) and the best-selling memoir Slow Motion, a spellbinding novel about art, fame, ambition, and family that explores a provocative question: Is it possible for a mother to be true to herself and true to her children at the same time?
Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraits she took of her young daughter from the ages of three to fourteen. The Clara Series, which graced the walls of museums around the world as well as the pages of New York City tabloids that labeled the work pornographic, cast a long and inescapable shadow over its subject. At eighteen, when Clara might have entered university and begun to shape an identity beyond her sensationalized, unsought role in the New York art world, she fled to the quiet obscurity of small-town Maine, where she married and had a child, a daughter whom she has tried to shield from the central facts of her early life and her damaging role as her mother's muse.
Fourteen years later, Ruth Dunne is dying, and Clara is summoned to her bedside. Despite her anguish and ambivalence about confronting a family life she has repressed and denied for more than a decade, Clara returns. She finds Ruth surrounded, even in her illness, by worshipful interns, protective assistants, and her conniving art dealer.
Once again, she is Clara Dunne, the object of curiosity, the girl in the photos. Except this time she has her own daughter to think about — a girl who at nine looks strikingly like the girl in Ruth's photos — and she yearns to protect her, to insulate her from the exposure that will inevitably result when her two worlds, New York and Maine, collide.
As Clara charts a path connecting her childhood with her adult life, Shapiro's novel weaves together past and present in images as stark and intense as the photographs that tore the Dunnes apart. A brilliant examination of motherhood — a novel that pits artistic inspiration against maternal obligation and asks whether the two can ever be fully reconciled — Black & White explores the limits and duties of family loyalties, and even of love. Gripping, haunting, psychologically complex, this is Shapiro at her captivating best.
"Clara, the protagonist of Shapiro's uneven fifth novel (after Family History), is the youngest daughter and muse of Ruth Dunne, a famous Manhattan photographer who made her name shooting Sally Mann-style (read: nude and provocative) photos of a young Clara. Unable to bear the humiliation of being 'the girl in those pictures,' Clara runs away from home at 18. Fourteen years later and still estranged from her mother, Clara's living in Maine with her husband and daughter when her older sister calls and tells her Ruth is in failing health. Clara travels back to Manhattan, where she comes to terms with her family and herself. Though Clara's frequent bemoaning of her emotional scars tries the reader's patience, Shapiro's sharp depictions of love and shame go a long way toward putting the self-pity into relief. It's unfortunate that Ruth fails to comes across as anything more than a narcissistic artist, but the novel offers some fine insights into marriage, the making of art and the often difficult mother-daughter dynamic." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the acclaimed author of Family History and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion comes a sensational new novel about mothers and daughters.
After years of estrangement from her famous photographer mother, Ruth Dunne, and the scandal and publicity of nude photographs taken of her as a child by her mother, Clara Brodeur returns to New York City when her mother falls ill and is forced to reconcile the challenges of the past and the new life in Maine she has built for herself. 35,000 first printing.
Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraitsshe took of her young daughter.
At age eighteen, sick of her notoriety as the girl in the pictures, Clara fled New York City, settling and making her own family in small-townMaine. But years later, when Ruth reaches out from her deathbed, Clara suddenly finds herself drawn back to the past she thought she had escaped. From the beloved author of Family History andSlow Motion, a spellbinding novel that asks: How do we forgive those who failed to protect us?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Dani Shapiro's most recent books include Family History and Slow Motion. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker; Granta; Elle; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Ploughshares, and has been broadcast on National Public Radio. She is currently a visiting writer at Wesleyan University. She lives with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
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