Cover blurb – Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.
Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World, deftly brings us a fictional version of life behind the iconic Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World. The writing is lovely and the story is interesting. Christina Olson lived her life at her family’s remote farm in Cushing, Maine. Crippled as a child by illness, her ability to move grew more limited as the years went by. But for twenty years, a piece of the world came to her. Through a friend, Andrew Wyeth arrived as a visitor one day. Curious about the house, he asked if he could come and paint. Paint the house, the farm, the landscape, the view, the brother Al going about his daily chores, and then ultimately Christina in her habitat.
Kline weaves fact and fiction into a “powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of American history. She brings focus to the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait. Artist and muse come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.”
p. 288 There are traces of Andy everywhere, even when he’s gone. The smell of eggs, splatters of tempera. A dry, splayed paintbrush. A wooden board pocked with color..
the weather cools. He’s still working. He doesn’t leave for Pennsylvania as usual at the end of August. I don’t ask why, half afraid that if I speak the words aloud, they’ll remind him that it is past time for him to return home.
Excellent read. I’ve always liked the Wyeths – Nathaniel, Andrew, and Jamie. I’ve been to the Brandywine Museum and Chadd’s Ford area where they lived in Pennsylvania. And the painting, Christina’s World, is haunting. Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World gives it and the story its due.