Synopses & Reviews
Wood (The Bellwether Revivals) offers an intimate portrait of an artist in his second novel illuminated by reflections on creativity and the creative process. The first of four parts begins on an island off the coast of Istanbul. Narrator Knell and three companions welcome a strange teenage boy to Portmantle the island’s sanctuary for gifted individuals seeking lost inspiration. Knell’s companions include a playwright an architect and Quickman the famed author of an iconic novel. They all use pseudonyms but the teenager recognizes Knell as Scottish painter Elspeth Conroy. Knell/Elspeth recalls her early years prompted by the boy’s troubled manner. The second section flashes back to Knell/Elspeth’s rise from painter’s assistant to toast of the 1960s London’s art scene a career complicated by prescription drugs conflict with her inner critic and a disastrous encounter with an actual critic who writes a scathing review. Seeking solace from a friendly psychiatrist in a secluded Scottish cottage and finally at Portmantle Knell/Elspeth struggles to capture on canvas the ecliptic: an imaginary line delineating the sun’s arc across the sky a scientific construct invented to capture a complex truth. In the third section she attempts a daring escape from the island painting in tow. The last section “Clarity” separates construct from complexity surprising both artist and reader. With its architectural structure dramatic pacing enthralling plot and lush landscapes Wood’s novel features beautifully written meticulously perceived observations about art and artists. It may not be note perfect as Quickman’s novel is described but like Quickman’s it is unusual and disquieting. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
From the award-winning author ofThe Bellwether Revivalscomes a "gorgeous and harrowing work" (Emily St. John Mandel) set on a mysterious island, where artists strive to recover their lost gifts--and where nothing is quite as it seems.
Situated on a Turkish island, Portmantle might be the strangest, most exclusive artists' colony around. Its brilliant residents linger for years, all expenses paid and living under assumed names. Relieved of the burdens of time and ego, they are free to create their next masterpieces.
Elspeth Conroy (aka "Knell") is a Scottish painter who has been at Portmantle for a decade, a refugee from the hectic London art scene. Her fellow longtimers include Quickman, whose sole book became a classic and paralyzed his muse; MacKinney, a playwright who left behind her family; and Pettifer, an architect obsessing over an unfinished cathedral. In his astonishing second novel, Benjamin Wood gives us an intenselyintimate portrait of an artist as a young woman, with truths on every page (Independent).
The hermetic world at Portmantle shatters when the 17-year-old Fullerton arrives at the gates, his provenance and talents unknown. As Knell searches for answers, she reveals the path that led her to this place: Her intimate bond with her gruff drunk of a mentor; her early successes and crushing failures; a journey across the Atlantic and into the psychiatrist's office; and a grand commission of astronomical significance.
What is "The Ecliptic," and how does it relate to the life Elspeth left behind? This gorgeous puzzle of a novel touches the head and the heart, and the effect is nothing short of electrifying."