Welcome to my stop on the TLC Books blog tour of A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline! I’m extra-super excited to be on this tour because this book is the best book I’ve read in 2017!
The Blurb: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.
“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”
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 American paintings of the twentieth century.
As she did in her beloved smash 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, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a 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.
I was immediately drawn to this book for so many reasons. I loved The Orphan Train and could not wait to read another book written by Christina Baker Kline. I love Andrew Wyeth’s work; I really could go on and on about how much I love his paintings. I’ll restrain myself though and say only that I’m unbelievably drawn to his signature color palette and his peaceful yet intense nostalgia-evoking subjects and scenery. Lastly, I love books that tell the little-known stories behind well-known people, places, and events.
A Piece of the World is the story of Christina Olson, Wyeth’s friend and muse. Christina is a very complicated woman; in turns she is stubborn, resilient, sensitive, strong, introspective, and perceptive. This story itself has obviously been meticulously researched. The scenery is beautifully rendered and made me feel as though I’d been transported to Cushing, Maine (where I am now itching to go). The author did an amazing job of blending fact and fiction into a book that I simply could not put down.
This book is special from start to finish but the thing that about it that really struck me was how the story was told. Many books are written in first person but few convey the enormous sense of intimacy found in A Piece of the World. The reader is made to feel as though they are Christina’s trusted confidant.
“Closing my eyes, I lean over the side, the salt spray on my face mingling with tears. I weigh the shell in my palm – this cameo shell that has no place with the others. A store-bought trinket with no history, no story. I knew, deep down, when he gave it to me that he didn’t understand anything about me.“
I was expecting to read an interesting story about Christina’s relationship with Wyeth but this book is so much more than that. It’s really an exploration of the life of a woman who, faced with many challenges, is determined to remain true to herself. It was a very emotional read for me and one I’ll not soon forget.
Many thanks to HarperCollins/William Morrow for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.