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Girl in White

Girl in White [Kindle Edition]

Sue Hubbard
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Girl in White is the extraordinary story of the German expressionist painter Paula Modershohn-Becker (1876-1907), told from the fictionalised perspective of her daughter, Mathilde. Becker was a pioneer of modern art in Europe, but denounced as degenerate by the Nazis after her death; Sue Hubbard draws on the artist’s diaries and paintings to bring to life her intense relationship with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and her struggle to find a balance between being a painter, wife and mother.

“Beautifully written and wholly knowledgeable – Girl in White is a triumph of literary and artistic understanding, a tour de force: masterly, moving.”
Fay Weldon

“A writer of genuine talent.”
Elaine Feinstein

Sue Hubbard is a novelist, poet and art critic. Her poem Eurydice is London’s largest public art poem, at Waterloo. She is a regular contributor to the Independent and the New Statesman, and runs Creative Writing workshops at the Royal College of Art.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 455 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Cinnamon Press (27 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K51OTW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #273,266 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dual-stranded Gaze at Artistic Genius. 10 Sep 2012
Sue Hubbard is an established art critic and writer; I followed her art reviews in Time Out years ago, and her collected criticism - Adventures In Art (2010) - is some of the best since Robert Hughes'. So when she elects to write a novel based on a woman artist, you know it will be doubly authoritative, as John Berger, no less, testifies on the cover.
The artist is Paula Modersohn-Becker, a member of the Worpsweder community established at the end of the Nineteenth century which became the seedbed of the Expressionists. Paula Becker, who married another member of the group, Otto Modersohn, died too young - of an embolism soon after childbirth in 1907 - to fulfill her full potential, although her development was towards the objective classicism of Cezanne rather than the existential subjectivism that became the Expressionist movement.
Although familiar with some of her work, I knew little of Modersohn-Becker's life, so I can't tell how much of the narrative - apart from the documented trips to Paris, meetings with Rilke and Clara Westhoff, family life - is factual, how much is invented. And that is itself tribute to the way Hubbard weaves a seamless texture around those few givens, the texture of day-to-day life - in squalid but intoxicating Paris, on the peat moors of Worpswede, in the ordinary daily compromises of marriage and living.
There are some striking descriptive phrases in the texture: a "nose like a mistake"; a mouth like an unhealed wound; her dead father's expression - "as if he had just understood something important"; Rilke's pale complexion as if he had spent too much time in the moonlight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Book 7 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Girl In White

This is a lovely slow burn of a book. I usually read fiction quickly but like most poetry this book refused to be hurried. It is rich with details about Paula Modersohn-Becker and her life as an artist. It feels at times like a series of paintings that you could step into and the locations of Paris and particularly Worpswede are vividly portrayed. It also deals with the contemporary dilemmas of how as a woman you can make your way in the world as an artist and the competing demands of family and duty are ever present.

The voices in the book alternate between that of Mathilde, Paula's daughter in a fictionalised form and Paula, who died shortly after her daughter was born. Sue Hubbard manages to pull off the trick of making it seem as though their stories are unfolding in the present as you read, rather than in the past. Clearly the book is underpinned by an immense amount of research but you don't feel the weight of it in the writing.

As the John Berger quote on the back cover says it is a `haunting book'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An artist's life - Paula Modersohn-Becker 30 Sep 2012
Sue Hubbard's book is about an artist I previously knew little about. This powerfully poetic narrative interlaces fact with fiction, weaving backwards and forwards between the third-person narrative of German artist Paula Modelsohn-Becker and the first-person narrative of her daughter Mathilde.

The story follows Paula's passionate pursuit of truth through her art and the unflinching sacrifices she makes in order to realize her ambitions, at a time when women were not expected to put their art first. Her relationships with the poet Rilke and with Otto Modelsohn, who becomes her husband, pull her in opposing directions yet both are influential in her development. Mathilde, who loses her mother shortly after she was born, retraces Paula's footsteps in order to better understand her own identity.

Hubbard writes emotionally but never sentimentally. Her piercing visual descriptions make for intense reading. Bringing art to life on the page her words become paintings, her intuitions become vivid realities. I read this book like watching a film, seeing feeling and hearing everything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 31 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I first started reading I had not known anything about this artist. I was inspired to research her and her husbands art on line and this gave me more of a insight and understanding of the story. Good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Insightful Novel - Highly Recommended 16 Nov 2012
I have just finished Sue Hubbard's wonderful new novel, based on the life of Paula Modersohn Becker. I want simply to say that it is a fine and moving piece of writing. I love Hubbard's work, and in this new book I think she has excelled herself. As a painter myself, I have to say her insights into what that means, are extraordinary. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paula Modersohn-Becker, (1876-1907) 21 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The Girl in White is a recounting of a web of German lives - artistic folk of unusual dedication - centred around the brief span of the Expressionist painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907).

Sue Hubbard recaptures these times as an essence based on an imaginative and researched understanding, infused with a keen awareness of the struggling life of an artist. The artist, Paula Modersohn-Becker, is both dedicated to this open-ended pursuit and resiliently determined, despite the pervasive force of misunderstanding which she faces over and over, even from those she would most wish to love freely, and trust with confidence.

The realistic reconstruction makes for a tragic biography: it is beyond being merely sad. The wearing hard facts of poverty and the constant, bickering of self-confidence are sternly acknowledged and portrayed. The people involved are roundly interpreted, in this human, all too human, rendering. And in the end, the tragic result is this: Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) lived a rugged real life, but it was cut short and her art is bereft due to the lack of means and support, and not for a lack of fortitude or aptitude.

So Rodin stars around, negligently conquering like an ever-hungry bulldog. Rilke's mincing melancholia, Otto Modersohn's desperate ploddishness, Clara Westhoff's impetuous excessiveness - each are rendered beyond the obvious stereo-types, with persuasive insight. And their relationships unfold within the contrasting contexts of Worpswede (Germany), Berlin, Paris. The glittering glamour of one, the sauvagerie of the other, the sleazy sexiness of Paris - each context is clothed in it's particular brand of poverty.
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