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In the Full Light of the Sun Hardcover – 28 Feb 2019
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A completely fascinating novel about the early 20th century art world and its many dubious machinations. Expertly researched, compellingly narrated and full of potent resonance today (William Boyd)
Clare Clark casts her spell of time and place with casual elegance and no apparent tricks - yet caught me up in this juicy story of colossal art fraud, the passions and intrigues of her vivid and moving characters - and the truly terrifying rise of the Nazi party, with all its contemporary echoes. The atmosphere of this book lingers on (Laline Paull)
I loved In the Full Light Of The Sun, a novel about deception, self-deception, truth, love and lies that will enthral anyone fascinated by Van Gogh, the art world and Berlin in the 1920s. Written with verve and assurance it is both engaging and humane (Amanda Craig)
In her gripping new novel Clare Clark paints a picture of Weimar Berlinin which surface glitter hides sinister and bitter truths. Page by page she brings secret lives into the light; nothing: not love, not art, not politics, is what it seems, and few escape the brutal forces that emerge (Stella Tillyard)
An engrossing read (Image magazine)
A wonderful novel: passionate, intelligent, humane, it held me from the first page to the last. Van Gogh's fleeting genius - achingly out of reach, the pull so strong - is wonderfully evoked; and the house of cards that was the Weimar Republic provides the perfectly rendered backdrop for a story about our willingness to deceive in the pursuit of beauty (Rachel Seiffert)
A fascinating tale . . . Clark's historical worlds are meticulously researched (The Times)
With great skill and sympathy, Clark evokes a febrile society in which politics, love and art offer no certainties, and the ground always threatens to open beneath her characters' feet (Nick Rennison Sunday Times)
Clark excels . . . a gripping and ultimately moving story about art, artifice and authenticity (Neil Armstrong Mail on Sunday)
An irresistible story . . . as compelling as it is expansive (Guardian)
Based on a true story, unfolding through the subsequent rise of Hitler and the Nazis, this gripping tale is about beauty and justice, and the truth that may be found when our most treasured beliefs are revealed as illusions. By the Women's Prize for Fiction twice-longlisted author.See all Product description
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It is against this backdrop that the author has set her novel, with the leitmotif of art and the little-known Van Gogh forgery scandal. This is the story of the role of art in the period and of chosen characters who played their fictional part in the world of art dealership and connoisseurship.
There is deception, self-deception and lives lived in tumultuous times. A novel of the time with prescient relevance to what is going on with the UK and Europe now. The narrative charts the involvement of three Berliners – Julius, a middle-aged art expert who wrote “The Making of Modern Art”; young Emmeline, only 17 years old when the book opens and Rachmann, a mysterious art dealer. Several hitherto unknown paintings by the famous Van Gogh have come to light and the characters’ individual roles are explored as their lives overlap.
Moving from the hedonistic – oftentimes nihilistic – times towards the rise of Hitler, the nature of art and the styles that are abhorred and conversely lauded are brought into sharp relief as the political spectrums begin to change. Art became a political statement and weapon.
This was an interesting novel to read whilst in Berlin, to get a feel for the footsteps past in the city. Currently Berlin is a city of cranes, there are huge numbers of building projects across the landscape, but tucked away it is still quite possible to find gems of the era that survived bombings and destruction of WW2.
My art history tutor said that when you visit a new city, always look up and it is amongst the gables and rooftops that you will find the true gems of a period. I saw many buildings in Kreuzberg of the era and imagined some of the characters in the book conducting their affairs behind the windows.
This was a novel to savour in the capital city. I enjoyed it, particularly the art aspect. At times it was a little earnest but it is clear that the author has enjoyed the research and revelled in the era and the storytelling.
From the Historical Fiction Roundup of the Sunday Times (24.2.19): “With great skill and sympathy, Clark evokes a febrile society in which politics, love and art offer no certainties, and the ground always threatens to open beneath her characters’ feet”
The book is divided up into 3 sections. Julius, Emmeline and Frank (note the nice detail of the differently headed chapters) allowing the reader to meet each character and learn of their story. Set with the backdrop of 1920’s/30’s Germany with the financial crisis of the time and the emergence of Nazi rule, the book follows these fictional characters within the context of the real life story of the van Gogh forgery case.
Julius is an art authenticator and has written a best selling book on Vincent van Gogh. He loves art more than anything. Definitely more than his wife, even more than his son??
In this first part we meet the character of Matthias, a seemingly charming and enthusiastic young man ready to learn and make a name for himself in the art world. He approaches Julius and ask him to look at a painting he has recently acquired to seek his opinion. We soon learn however, that maybe this young man is not as naive as he seems and we get the impression that Julius is being taken for a ride. We also meet the young Emmeline. Head strong and desperate to experience the world outside of her comfortable home life.
The story grows, slowly in some parts, but always eloquently and with a wonderful lightness of touch even with the horrendous events happening in Berlin at this time. I felt for all the characters except Matthias as you only really learn of him through the effect he has on others, rather than learn anything about him from himself. This obviously helps with his mysteriousness. Because of how the characters were written and its time, place and links to real life events I could also see how it had a quote from William Boyd. I enjoyed the stories of each character told within the main story of the book and particularly liked the touching relationship between Frank and his young niece.
This is a slow moving book with a simple main story line but has some lovely written and well researched characters and a warm and believable feel.
There is a nice interesting explanation of the story of the van Gogh forgery case that inspired the writing of this book.
This book is available now and is published by Virago.