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Maureen Gibbon

Autor/a de Swimming Sweet Arrow : A Novel

10 obres 256 Membres 9 Ressenyes

Obres de Maureen Gibbon

Swimming Sweet Arrow : A Novel (2000) 105 exemplars
Paris Red: A Novel (2015) 66 exemplars
Thief: A Novel (2010) 31 exemplars
Paris Red: A Novel (2016) 12 exemplars
Her Fault (1988) 5 exemplars
Rosso Parigi (2016) 4 exemplars


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In a Paris still reeling from the recent war of 1870, two young women, teenagers still, share a tiny apartment and work as silver burnishers. It’s a demanding job but steady work, and Louise and Denise (called Nise) count themselves lucky to have each other’s friendship and a sound alternative to working the streets, however meager their wages. But they also dream of more, of being noticed, picked out from among the crowd.

One day, they pose before a shopwindow, holding drawing tablets, pretending to sketch what’s inside. A man approaches them, and a triangular flirtation begins. At first, Louise and Nise are careful not to push themselves forward, each concerned with not hurting the other; besides, they must at least pretend to play hard to get. But beneath the teasing, Louise senses a strong attraction between herself and the man, who calls himself Eugène, who has some money, has apparently seen the hard side of life, and who sometimes speaks with disarming, if not shocking, directness.

It all happens so easily, it seems, and yet Louise is the type to reflect on why. His name, as she finds out, is really Édouard Manet. Louise Victorine Meurent becomes his mistress, his model, and, to some extent, his muse. I didn’t recognize her name, but I certainly knew what she looked like, because she’s in two of my favorite Manet canvases, Olympe (on the book jacket) and Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Lunch on the Grass). Both created a stir for their frank sensuality and shocking directness.

Having dug around a little, I also learn that Meurent became a painter too. Unlike what the novel suggests, she gravitated toward an older, more accepted style than his, which, ironically, earned her more favor than he from the official Salon.

Gibbon has imagined the artist-model relationship in fine emotional detail. I particularly like how she traces the currents that run between them, which don’t always follow the expected route. For one thing, Manet isn’t the absinthe-sodden, self-absorbed, irresponsible artist of lore, which allows him to appreciate Louise for herself, not just as an object. He’s always willing to listen to her, something that takes her by surprise.

Just as important, as with the shopwindow scene, you can’t necessarily pinpoint who’s seducing whom, or what it’s for. As Louise observes, “It is not always so clear what someone wants, or what money can buy, or who exactly pays.” Without saying too much, I can tell you that between these two people, it’s more about art than sex, though there’s plenty of both.

The beginning feels a little romanticized, like a sepia photograph that’s been airbrushed. The Paris of Paris Red isn’t nearly as seamy as that of Cathy Marie Buchanan’s Painted Girls, and Louise, though she stints herself at times, seems relatively safe. The key word is relatively, however, because just as Louise has abandoned Nise, which troubles her (somewhat), she worries that Manet will abandon her. She may not starve or have to go on the street, for she has a skilled trade to fall back on. But she will lose her dreams and the connection to Manet on which they depend. As she says, money figures into it, but it’s not everything.
… (més)
Novelhistorian | Hi ha 4 ressenyes més | Jan 31, 2023 |
An enjoyable read. Good details. Paris 1862. Artists & Cafes. Once Edouard Manet meets Victorine, and unconventional love blooms and the portrait we know as Olympia comes to life to change the art world forever. A lovely, fun read.
ShannonRose4 | Hi ha 4 ressenyes més | Sep 15, 2020 |
Mildly depressing read set in a small (Pennsylvania?) town where everyone has a dead-end job and spends their free time drinking and huffing PAM out of plastic bags (okay, that was one scene, but I did not know that was a thing, and am still vaguely shocked). Vangie and June are high school seniors and the best of friends. However, once they graduate and claim their own dead-end jobs, the young women begin to drift apart.

This book has been on my to-read list since 2011; otherwise, I would not have picked it up. I read it in the hours before bed last night and was left feeling gloomy and glum. I know small towns like this, and Gibbon's description was just too close to home. Also, icky sex.… (més)
bookishblond | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Oct 24, 2018 |
I struggled to get into this novel and it was short enough that it was over right when I felt like the pages were starting to fly by. I shouldn't, but I can't help but compare this novel to Rodin's Lover, which I read a few months ago, and was set in Paris during approximately the same time period. I also enjoyed reading that book much better than this one. This book isn't bad by any means, I just didn't get a great enjoyment out of it and can't really recommend it for anyone who isn't a complete art lover (it helps if you're familiar with 19th-century art).… (més)
wagner.sarah35 | Hi ha 4 ressenyes més | Jan 2, 2016 |

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