Synopses & Reviews
In this richly imagined fiction, Harriet Scott Chessman entices us into the world of Mary Cassatt's early Impressionist paintings. Chessman's gift for storytelling mingles with her extraordinary understanding of these beautiful and significant works of art. This literary tour de force rises out of a sustained inquiry into art's relation to the ragged world of desire and mortality.
The story is told in the absorbing and lyrical voice of Mary Cassatt's sister Lydia, as she poses for five of her sister's most unusual paintings (reproduced in this edition). Ill with Bright's disease and conscious of her approaching death, Lydia contemplates her world with courage, openness, and passion. As she addresses and comes to accept her own position as her sister's model, she asks stirring questions about love and art's capacity to remember.
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper illuminates Cassatt's brilliant paintings even as it creates a compelling portrait of the brave and memorable model who inhabits them with such grace, and the times in which they both lived.
"Tailor-made for gift giving, it is so delicate and lovely it seems to have arrived on a lavender-scented cloud." Mary Elizabeth Williams, New York Times Book Review
Readers will be transported to the vibrant art scene of late nineteenth-century Paris in this richly textured portrait of the relationship between Mary Cassatt and her sister Lydia.
Beginning in the autumn of 1878, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper dreams its way into the intimate world of Cassatt's older sibling. Told in the reflective, lyrical voice of Lydia, who is dying of Bright's disease, the novel opens a window onto the extraordinary age in which these sisters lived, painting its sweeping narrative canvas with fascinating real-life figures that include Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, Cassatt's brilliant, subversive mentor.
Featuring five full-color plates of Cassatt's paintings, this is a moving and illuminating exploration of the illusive nature of art and desire, memory and mortality, romantic and familial love.
Set in Paris in 1880, this mock-memoir entices the reader into the world of Mary Cassatt's early impressionist paintings through her sister Lydia, who Chessman sees as the artist's most inspiring muse. Full color.
Harriet Scott Chessman takes us into the world of Mary Cassatt's early Impressionist paintings through Mary's sister Lydia, whom the author sees as Cassatts most inspiring muse. Chessman hauntingly brings to life Paris in 1880, with its thriving art world. The novels subtle power rises out of a sustained inquiry into arts relation to the ragged world of desire and mortality. Ill with Brights disease and conscious of her approaching death, Lydia contemplates her world narrowing. With the rising emotional tension between the loving sisters, between one who sees and one who is seen, Lydia asks moving questions about love and arts capacity to remember. Chessman illuminates Cassatts brilliant paintings and creates a compelling portrait of the brave and memorable model who inhabits them with such grace. Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper includes five full-color plates, the entire group of paintings Mary Cassatt made of her sister.
About the Author
HARRIET SCOTT CHESSMAN is the author of the acclaimed novels Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper and Ohio Angels, as well as The Public Is Invited to Dance, a book about Gertrude Stein. Formerly associate professor of English at Yale University, she has also taught literature and writing at Bread Loaf School of English and at Wesleyan University, and has published several essays on modern literature. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.