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An Equal Stillness by [Kay, Francesca]
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An Equal Stillness Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Length: 340 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Description

Review

'An Equal Stillness is pitch perfect. Kay describes Mallow's painting with an arresting intensity' (Eithne Farry DAILY MAIL)

An enchanting life story... Exquisitely written: the descriptions of Jennet's work, paintings that never existed and the descriptions of colour are breathtaking. (DAILY EXPRESS)

it's the freshness of the prose, the insightfulness of the author, that makes this a very special book... A startlingly accomplished debut. (newbooks magazine)

a masterful portrait of a woman forging an unexpectedly dazzling career against the backdrop of familial duty (EASY LIVING)

Kay writes about art with a wonderful sensuality and relish (THE TIMES)

Kay's writing is beautifully intense (FINANCIAL TIMES)

a compelling, vivid portrait (THE GUARDIAN)

Francesca Kay's impressive first novel is a fictional biography... The descriptions of artworks are remarkable. Colour is evoked with amazing subtlety. (THE INDEPENDENT)

the most beautiful, accomplished debut I have read for a long time... It is a powerful novel by a supremely talented artist. (Francesca Segal THE OBSERVER)

the author successfully shares with us her delight in the world. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

This is a story of genius amid domesticity that will resonate with readers on a fundamental level. We're thrilled to recommend this book and are excited to see what Francesca Kay does next (Mishal Husain Orange Chair of Judges, BBC World News presenter)

Ms Kay has an unusual ability to ignite the imagination. A passion for art and a gift for depicting the landscape of paint are what make the book stand out. (THE ECONOMIST)

Francesca Kay has won this year's Orange Award for New Writers and a real star has stepped on to the stage... Lyrical, sensual, sharp - this is the most impressive contemporary novel I have read for years. (A.N. Wilson READERS DIGEST)

Book Description

An outstanding debut about a love affair between artists that endures professional rivalry, alcoholism and betrayal

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1 edition (29 Jan. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002S0KBUO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #286,489 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall I enjoyed this book as it was easy to read, interesting and contained lovely descriptions. It was presented in good manageable chunks which made it easy to pick up and put down when time was tight. However the descriptions of some of the less important works of art were a bit overdone and so could have been cut or at least shortened. The narrator also appeared to be implausible so it might have been better to write it as a straight forward novel. A couple of characters were a little under-developed. We read this at book club and I think that it would make a good holiday read.
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