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.