Art: Plain and Fancy Fiction

Get inside the wonderful art that has captured our imaginations for centuries in these art novels--some serious and some just plain fun!

Tinisima

By Elena Poniatowska

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"A vibrant portrait of the controversial photographer and radical Tina Modotti discusses her love affair with Edward Weston, her trial for the murder of another lover, her militant communism, and her work for the international revolutionary organization Red Aid."
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Port Mungo

By Patrick McGrath

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During their privileged, eccentric English childhood, Jack Rathbone enjoyed the unstinting adoration of his sister, Gin. So when both are art students in London, it is wrenching for her to watch him fall under the spell of Vera Savage, a flamboyant and reckless painter from Glasgow.

Jack and Vera run off to New York City within weeks of meeting, and from a bruised, bereft distance Gin follows their progress south through Miami and pre-revolutionary Havana to Port Mungo, a seedy town in the mangrove swamps of Honduras. There, in an old banana warehouse, Jack obsessively devotes himself to his canvases while Vera succumbs to a chronic restlessness that not even the birth of two daughters can subdue.

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Murder Is Art

By Bill Crider

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Dr. Sally Good is head of the English and Fine Arts Department at a community college on the Gulf Coast of Texas. It’s an easy-going place where the faculty is more likely to write articles for music magazines than pompous literary rags. A popular professor dies under suspicious circumstances – rumors veer between sexual hijinks and/or Satanism. Dr. Good must run the department – and find the killer.

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The Kill Artist

By Daniel Silva

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Art restorer--and former Israeli intelligence operative--Gabriel Allon is drawn back into the game to take on a cunning terrorist on one last killing spree, a Palestinian zealot who played a dark part in Gabriel's past. And what begins as a manhunt turns into a globe-spanning duel fueled by both political intrigue and deep personal passions...

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The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

By Lilian Jackson Braun

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The first appearance in hardcover of the first installment of the author's ever-popular series features the unusual detective team of award-winning reporter Jim Qwilleran and Koko, his brilliant Siamese cat, who penetrate the world of modern art to solve a mystery.

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Waking Raphael

By Leslie Forbes

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La Muta, the mute woman.
"Amidst a country rocked by scandal and corruption, inhabitants of the idyllic city of Urbino, Italy, birthplace of Raphael, are more concerned with a sudden outbreak of miracles than with politics. But what unspeakable secret lies hidden in Raphael's enigmatic painting? Its restoration will drive a living mute to a shocking act of violence and spark an investigation into a nearly forgotten war crime and a series of events that will shatter the silence gripping this community forever. Both a mesmerizing thriller and a passionate exploration of the power of truth to effect reconciliation and restore faith, Waking Raphael spins a tantalizing web of silence and lies to recreate an Italy where the romantic and the violent, the comic and the tragic, are spell-bindingly interwoven."

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The Passion of Artemisia

By Susan Vreeland

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"...chronicles the extraordinary life of Artemisia Gentileschi, the first woman to make a significant contribution to art history. At age eighteen, Artemisia Gentileschi finds herself humiliated in papal court for publicly accusing the man who raped her-Agostino Tassi, her painting teacher. When even her father does not stand up for her, she knows she cannot stay in Rome and begs to have a marriage arranged for her. Her new husband, an artist named Pietro Stiatessi, takes her to his native Florence, where her talent for painting blossoms and she becomes the first woman to be elected to the Accademia dell'Arte. But marriage clashes with Artemisia's newfound fame as a painter, and she begins a lifelong search to reconcile painting and motherhood, passion and genius."
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The Lady and the Unicorn

By Tracy Chevalier

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"Bewitching art experts and enthusiasts alike for centuries, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries hang today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. In each, an elegant lady and a unicorn stand or sit on an island of grass surrounded by a rich background of animals and flowers. Little is known about them except that they were woven toward the end of the fifteenth century and bear the coat of arms of a wealthy family from Lyons. Tracy Chevalier takes readers back to the tapestries’ creation, giving life to the men who designed and made them, as well as the wives, daughters, and servants who exercised subtle (and not so subtle) influences over their men."

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Shenandoah Summer

By John Jaffe

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Set in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley, this bittersweet novel blends themes of art and passion to tell the story of two people learning to let go - and reaching for their heart's desire.
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Orchard: A Novel

By Larry Watson

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"...the explosive story of an artist, his muse, and the staggering price they pay for their chance at immortality. Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter, is famous in Door County, Wisconsin, for his luminous work—and for his affairs with his models. His wife, Harriet, has learned to accept these dalliances in the belief that his immense talent will ultimately make up for his shortcomings as a husband.

"Sonja Skordahl, a Norwegian immigrant, came to America looking for a new life. Instead, she married Henry House, only to find herself defined, like so many other mid-twentieth-century women, by her roles as wife and mother. As circumstances and destiny land Sonja in Ned’s studio, she becomes more than his model and more than an object of desire—she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known."

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