Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Gravity of Birds

The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 295
Keywords: memories, art, family
Format Read: ARC from author in exchange for honest review (thank you so much!)

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative, and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family's summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters -- a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

Elegant prose and mysterious, well-crafted characters Guzeman nailed them. I was constantly blown away by her lyrical writing, and I'm just going to place on of my favorite quotes here to give you an idea (for context, he's speaking to the artist of a painting):

"You have been praised for your rendering of minute details in your work." Stephen paused, thinking about the first time he'd seen one of Bayber's paintings. "It's like looking at a puzzle, isn't it? The longer and closer you look, the more you see. And once something is seen, it cannot be unseen. The viewer is never able to take in the piece as he did the fist time — indeed the initial impression is gone and cannot be recalled."

The art history nerd in me loved every second of the discussions about art and the details they contain. The family connections were especially intriguing, and it was like a soft mystery throughout the course of the novel. I desperately wanted to know what happened in the past to make certain characters the way they were and why some of them no longer talked with others.

This was just one of those books that is so thoughtful and makes you read slowly because you want to read every single word on the page. And it wasn't action-packed or anything, and at times I felt like the plot moved excruciatingly slowly (which was the only negative I took away from the book at all), but even then, Guzeman's writing was so intriguing that it almost didn't matter.

Read When: You're looking for a more poignant piece that makes you truly think about the words in a book rather than speeding through it for fun.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I like a book that's just mind candy; other times, I want a book that makes me think. It sounds like this one would be good for a quiet, cozy day.


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