Customer Reviews


22 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully realised
This fictional biography of an artist is startlingly good. It describes the painter's life and artistic development in a very realistic way, and offers very illuminating reflections on the whole creative process. It also works very well as a novel - you want to know how Jennet's story develops and ends. But the most astonishing thing about it is that you can visualise...
Published on 23 May 2009 by Booklover

versus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed after all the hype
I can see from reading the reviews that this novel is one which readers tend towards really liking, or feel a palpable sense of disappointment with. I had great expectations- and for the first few pages it bode well. However the writing style, which to begin with ( and I agree with others here) I thought captivating, became repetitive and over-worked. Some of the best...
Published on 25 May 2010 by M. D'Artrey


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully realised, 23 May 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Hardcover)
This fictional biography of an artist is startlingly good. It describes the painter's life and artistic development in a very realistic way, and offers very illuminating reflections on the whole creative process. It also works very well as a novel - you want to know how Jennet's story develops and ends. But the most astonishing thing about it is that you can visualise the paintings that are described in such detail - these wholly imaginary works of art have a real presence and weight within the book. You believe in their beauty and integrity, and you truly believe that Jennet is a serious and significant artist. This is a powerful and moving book about a life lived for art.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Equal Stillness, 21 Jan 2009
By 
H. Heriz-Smith "heriz" (somerset) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Hardcover)
I love the title of this book, counterpoised against the more well-known phrase - "an equal music" - from one of Donne's sermons, suggesting that the novel's journey will be a journey from uncertainty in negotiating the world outside oneself - parents, lovers, children, friends, success, failure - towards inner equilibrium. The main character is an artist - reserved, self-effacing, discriminating and, of course, amazingly talented! Her story is told by another voice, one which is able to share the artist's vision and describe as through her eyes, what she loves to look at and paint, until word, colour object become miraculously interwoven, suggesting the very texture of her paintings. The book is radiant with the love of the language of colour - a vast palette of pigments and hues, a continuous search for the exact words to describe the ever-changing landscape of city, country, sky and sea. The book is absorbing and the kind of novel you keep reading til you reach the last page, knowing then that you will surely go back and read it again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed after all the hype, 25 May 2010
By 
M. D'Artrey - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
I can see from reading the reviews that this novel is one which readers tend towards really liking, or feel a palpable sense of disappointment with. I had great expectations- and for the first few pages it bode well. However the writing style, which to begin with ( and I agree with others here) I thought captivating, became repetitive and over-worked. Some of the best writing seems to be effortless. The sort of writing where you think you could have done the same ( but in reality of course was in fact a great effort). I simply couldn't raise any interest in the characters, and began to skip great chunks of text which were clearly of the same ilk as previous chunks- this constant use of language to draw metaphors with art and overly elaborate prose. I eventually gave up through simple lack of interest in what would happen next. I am though glad that others enjoyed it. Perhaps it just wasn't for me. If I had an advice for the writer, I would say don't rely on using colourful language (sic) to hold the reader- instead work on the characters and of course the simplicty- the bare bones of the story which draw the reader in. Though I am not a writer, just a voracious reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 28 July 2009
By 
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Hardcover)
I kept having to remind myself that Jennet Mallow is a fictional character; because Francesca Kay describes her paintings so exquisitely. you have to pinch yourself to remember that these are figments of the writer's imagination, not works you'll be able to visit in the Tate!
The novel - which starts at Jennet's graveside - takes the form of a fictional biography, tracing her life as a woman/wife/mother and development as an artist. It rings entirely true. (I kept thinking of Winifred Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth.)
A tremendous achievement, hard to believe it's a first novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars equal impressiveness, 27 Aug 2009
By 
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
This thoroughly deserves the praise heaped on it. As others have said, the descriptions of paintings, and also the technical processes behind painting them, are brought off beautifully, together with their connections, or lack of obvious connections, with the events in the artist's life. I believed that Jennet was a wonderful painter, if not quite one of the most important painters of the 20th century, as claimed.
Equally impressive, though, and perhaps making the novel appealing to those less interested in painting, are the portrayals of relationships, not just with lovers, but with different generations within Jennet's family, sometimes painful, sometimes changing over time. The author also copes with the emotions of middle age and old age very well, for what I am assuming to be a fairly young woman. The different geographical settings are excellently evoked, and so are the historical eras, from the 1940s to the turn of the century, though never with heavy social realism: a wonderful balance betweeen the inner and the outer worlds. Finally, the sense of the transcendental, a world beyond which we cannot quite grasp, only sense imperfectly, lends a seriousness and nobility to Jennet's story and her work. Hugely impressive in many ways, and surely deserving of much re-reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing but no surprises, 1 May 2010
By 
J. Woodhouse "jan woodhouse" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
I'm afraid I agree with the last reviewer. I so wanted to love this book, the theme being close to my heart, but somehow it lacked conviction. Maybe this was to do with the choice of narrator. I couldn't pick up any dynamics between the person writing and the woman being written about - no secrets, no surprises. (Compare Port Mungo by Patrick McGrath, also a story of artists.) Hence, no page-turner. But the writing, as everyone says, is excellent, and an example of word-painting at its finest.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful title, 11 Oct 2010
By 
Pen pal "Topaz" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
That the author can describe art is a given. She has a very visual way of writing. She paints with words the pictures. I loved the title which is taken from a section of the book describing that fleeting moment beween life and death. One moment there, one moment not. The main theme of the story runs along the lines of 'A Star Is Born'. One on the way up, one drinking himself to the way down. Or to put it another way drowning his talent in booze. The relationships are handled very sensitively with insight and compassion, and it is very easy to identify with many of Jennet's emotions. The writing could become a little excessive at times, but it is a reasonable read. Something just prevented me from giving it four stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Windows & mirrors - Bars & grids, 4 Jun 2010
By 
Isola (Wiltshire UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
Francesca Kay's debut novel is a fictitional biography of a 20th century female artist, Jennet Mallow, and in my opinion the author did deserve to win the Orange award for new writers. The novel spans the years 1924 - 2000 and travels through Yorkshire, Oxford, London, Cornwall and Spain.

As a young art student, Kay's heroine falls for the enigmatic figure of David Heaton, a rising artist and tutor. When she becomes pregnant, her shocked parents insist they marry, and strangely enough, Heaton goes along with it. And there endeth the 'Mills & Boon' effect!

Sweeping in family and friends, the story revolves around their volatile relationship and their individual artistic talents. And when Jennet's star eventually begins to rise, David drowns his creativity in a bottle.

I found the choice of narrator somewhat odd - the one who knew her least! But I understand why Jennet Mallow's character has been likened to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. I also feel there's a strong bond to Sylvia Plath.

This novel is beautifully written and throughout the pages we're convincingly shown how art can demonstrate the power of language. It's not easy to describe a painting, especially abstracts, but the author manages to do this most convincingly. However, towards the end I was actually beginning to feel overwhelmed (& significantly tired) by Kay's continual descriptions of the artist's pain - just more windows & mirrors, bars & grids!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 May 2010
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
Sorry to say that I was disappointed with this book. It has had such rave reviews that I was expecting something that would grip me from beginning to the end.

I have to agree the writing is beautifully descriptive and imaginative and in the early stages of the book the descriptions of the art works were fascinating and worked well into the story. The story line is very good and it was because of this that I continued to the end of the book. However I became tired of the continual emphasis on word painting and in my opinion this got in the way of what was a very good story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Idea, 26 Nov 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: An Equal Stillness (Paperback)
I loved the language of this book - I want to know is the author a Poet?
I thought the idea of a fictional biography inpirational, The art and the discriptions of the paintings are beautifully depicted. It is the sort of book you buy for others knowing that they will take great pleasure from it too. Bryony Doran / Writer
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xa9896fa4)

This product

An Equal Stillness
An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay (Paperback - 3 Aug 2009)
5.59
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews