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The Genius and the Muse by Elizabeth Hunter

The Genius and the Muse

by Elizabeth Hunter

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Truly gorgeous. I'm reassured again and again that everything Elizabeth writes I love.

This is a contemporary romance which is not my usual genre, and if Elizabeth hasn't enquired about my interest in her short novel, I would never have read this book otherwise.

Seriously. The way she brings her characters to life makes you really root for them, all of them. I had my heart in my throat through most of the book and nearly in tears at some points.

The Genius and The Muse has two major plot lines.

Kate Mitchell is a photographer who is graduating from an art school and writing her dissertation based on a legendary photographer Reed O'Connor. Trying to understand his talent and mindset, she stumbles on to an old picture where her own professor and bunch of others stand together with Reed and a famous painter Samantha Rhodes. Both Reed and Sam seem deeply in love, and Kate's mentor makes a small remark that to understand Reed, Kate needs to understand his relationship with Sam.

Intrigued by this mysterious phrase, Kate starts digging and interviewing all the people on that picture...

The second plot line is the story of a great love between Reed and Sam and what happened to isolate them from each other, change both of them so much. Parallel to Kate's interviews and glimpses of magnetic chemistry that the couple used to have, we see how they met, fell in love and moved together to New York.

By not letting the sleeping dogs lie, Kate manages to transform her own life by meeting Javi, an antisocial sculptor friend of Reed and reunite Sam and Reed again.

Javi and Kate! *sigh* What a couple, so so right together... I love how all the love stories in Elizabeth's books are slow burn. They arise from series of circumstances, there is a spark, but then life gets in the way, and it takes time for that interest and magnetic pull to get strong enough to bring two people together. I love that! I love how real it all seems.

There is a little bit of Sidney Sheldon epicness in Miss Hunter's style, and I find it extremely appealing. Highly recommended, totally loved it! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Elizabeth Hunter’s The Genius and the Muse is a contemporary adult romance set in the art communities of both California and New York. This novel is what I like to think of as a “just one more chapter” book. In case you aren’t familiar with this type of novel, allow me to explain. It’s the book you’re still reading at two a.m. when you know you should be sound asleep, but just want to read one more chapter. Before you know it, the sun is up, the book is finished, and you just can’t bring yourself to feel bad about that.

Genius’s plot revolves around photography graduate student Kate Mitchell. Kate has spent her academic career studying the fine art of photography and has focused all of her attention (and thesis, yikes) on the work of the immensely talented, world-renowned, and ultra-reclusive photographer Reed O’Connor. Kate intimately knows everything there is to know about O’Connor’s work. That is, until the day she comes across a photograph that is absolutely uncharacteristic of everything O’Connor has ever produced. Like a dog with a bone, Kate can’t let it go.

The bulk of the novel moves back and forth between the present and the past, following Kate as she tracks down O’Connor’s friends and colleagues in an effort to understand the mystery behind the unusual photograph. What Kate discovers takes the reader and most of the novel’s characters on an emotional ride through the past and into the private life of one of the world’s most famous and misunderstood artists. Hunter has successfully overcome the sort of disjointed feel that novels of this type often have. In fact, Hunter has created a present and a past that are truly two inseparable parts of a whole; the time periods come together in beautifully cohesive way.

The journey to understanding O’Connor is made even more fascinating by the people in his circle, and how each and every one was effected by Reed’s life and significant drama. Through her research Kate meets and introduces the reader to O’Connor’s inner circle, a group that is still surprisingly close-knit. These superbly-developed characters are so perfectly written that each and every one has a balance to their own personality found in another character. Hunter cleverly only allows each character to divulge so many pieces of the puzzle before pointing Kate toward another member of the group. In truth, the characters and the story they tell will completely engross the reader. Each character is so intriguing in his or her own way that they become as important to the overall plot as Kate and O’Connor are. Again, two halves of a wonderfully cohesive whole.

The bottom line: if you’re not reading Elizabeth Hunter’s novels, you should be! Her plots and characters are fully developed and well-researched. The artspeak and technical parts of this book are a fine balance between informative and interesting yet not so technical as to turn off the casual reader. (Susan Vreeland, anyone?) Hunter’s writing style is so smooth, and her plots (this one included) just carry the reader through from beginning to end. ( )
  arthistorychick | May 16, 2012 |
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