A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

I am fascinated by the art and lives of the Wyeth clan, so I figured A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline would be an interesting read. And it was but perhaps not in the way I expected.

Although to be fair, not having read any of the author’s previous work, I was unsure what to expect.  But my interest in Wyeth drove my interest in the book.  In the end, however, I found it an interesting read mostly because of the hardscrabble life of Maine that it captured less than for any connection to Andrew Wyeth and the famous painting.

Sure, Kline seeks to make a connection between the life of the women in the painting and the painting itself. And there is an argument to be made that capturing something true about Christina is what made the painting so powerful.  So in capturing Christina’s life, Kline argues we understand more about the power of the art.

But the literary art, in my opinion, comes from describing the unique world of post war Maine; a family scrapping out a living in the often unforgiving, but often beautiful, landscape; dreaming of escape and adventure but finding themselves trapped in a house as the world changes around them.

A Piece of the World offers interesting insights into the intersection of fate and family, class and relationships, disability and freedom while it attempts to recreate the relationship between the famous artist and perhaps his most famous subject.

Obviously not a thriller but an well done historical novel with an enigmatic and fascinating subject as a touch point.

A Piece of the World Book Cover A Piece of the World
Christina Baker Kline
William Morrow
February 21, 2017

"A Piece of the World is 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, New York Times bestselling author of Moonglow 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.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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