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A Piece of the World Hardcover – 23 Mar 2017
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‘A moving portrait of a woman in search of autonomy and purpose in her life’ SUNDAY TIMES CULTURE
‘The novel evokes the sombre grace of those paintings in language as earnest and straightforward as Wyeth’s brush strokes, laying out a story as uncomplicated as his composition’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘A transporting peek behind the canvas’ NEW YORK MAGAZINE
‘A graceful, moving and powerful demonstration of what can happen when a fearless literary imagination combines with an inexhaustible curiosity about the past and the human heart: a feat of time travel, a bravura improvisation on the theme of art history, a wonderful story that seems to have been waiting, all this time, for Christina Baker Kline to come along and tell it’ MICHAEL CHABON
‘Christina Baker Kline writes about home and place with wisdom and tenderness, but most of all she writes about Christina Olson with compassion, empathy and resounding admiration. This is an inspiring, haunting, powerful novel’ HELEN SEDGWICK, author of The Comet Seekers
‘An affecting and memorable novel… unexpected and bleakly beautiful world. I thought it explored the nature of art and inspiration in a fascinating way, whilst also posing profound questions about what endures and what proves transitory; about the roles we choose and those which are forced upon us’ MATTHEW PLAMPIN, author of Will & Tom
‘With remarkable precision and compassion, A PIECE OF THE WORLD transports us to a mid-century farmhouse on the coast of Maine … Christina Baker Kline has accomplished something grand’ NATHAN HILL, author of The Nix
‘Tender, tragic, A PIECE OF THE WORLD is a fascinating exploration of the life lived inside that house at the top of the hill’ LILY KING
‘Painterly, sensuous, and sympathetic’ KIRKUS REVIEWS
‘A pure, powerful story of suffering met with a fight’ O Magazine (The Oprah Magazine)
‘Insightful, evocative prose brings Christina’s singular perspective and indomitable spirit to life’ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
From the Back Cover
To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World.
As she did in her beloved bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, Kline vividly imagines her life—with her complicated relationship to her family and her past, and her special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.
Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I’ve spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me. (There are many ways to be crippled, I’ve learned over the years, many forms of paralysis.) … You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.
It is a terrible thing to find the love of your life, Christina… You know too well what you’re missing when it’s gone.
The day we bury her is dreary: a colorless sky, gray-boned trees, old sooty snow. Winter, I think, must be tired of itself.
… I put my hand over his, and he lays his other hand over mine. I feel the way I do when I lose something – a spool of thread, say – and search for it everywhere, only to discover it in an obvious place, like on the sideboard under the cloth.
This was my first exposure to Christina Baker Kline’s talents and I became an instant devotee. The writing was emotive and often tinged with melancholy, lushly descriptive, thoughtfully observant, cunningly crafted, and intricately detailed. A fascinating mix of fact and fiction, I have since spent far too much time Googling Christina Olson and Andrew Wyeth’s iconic artwork. I was immediately immersed in this beautifully and insightfully written book from the first person POV of Christina, a girl/woman with few options and limited mobility. Christina lived her entire life in the same house with her slightly odd family in small-town rural Maine and had continued to live under extremely harsh conditions without indoor plumbing, running water, or electricity, long after others in her area were enjoying these luxuries.
Christina was possibly the most obstinate woman of her time. Unsteady on her weak limbs following an life-threatening and undiagnosed illness at the age of three, she despised pity, denied most offers of assistance despite frequent mishaps and injuries from falls, refused to seek medical assistance when offered, and in her later years when her legs were no longer of use to her she steadfastly refused to use a wheelchair and drug herself by her elbows, up and down stairs and even across fields to visit her neighbor. I ached for her and wanted to pop her in the back of the head at the same time for her stubborn pride.
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