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Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan

Portrait of Jennie (edition 1979)

by Robert Nathan

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179266,229 (3.82)19
Title:Portrait of Jennie
Authors:Robert Nathan
Info:Laurel-Leaf Books by Dell Publlishing Co. (1979), Paperback, 124 pages
Collections:Your library

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Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan


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Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan

Reading anything by Robert Nathan is like reading poetry. His words are so beautifully scripted on the page. It is unfortunate that his work goes so unappreciated in our time and that so many of his works are no longer in print.

This lovely short novella was written in 1939 and is an odd & haunting story. I found it to be beautiful & moving. It is about a young struggling & starving artist, Eben, who meets a mysterious little girl, Jennie, playing alone in the park on a misty, foggy late afternoon. They befriend one another and when they part she asks him to wait for her telling him that she will hurry. As they walk away from each other Eben turns for a last glimpse at this remarkable child, he finds that she has vanished in the mist.
Over the years Jennie returns to Eben and always it seems to him that she has grown so & each time she seems much older than when he last saw her. Jennie seems rather disconnected from time and tells him of living in a place that Eben knows is no longer there. She is so eager to finish growing up so that she can be with Eben always. He is fascinated and perhaps obsessed with her.
Eben sketches her over these years and these works are practically the only paintings/sketches that he can sell. They allow him to continue & to improve his painting.
Jennie has become Eben's muse. One time when she comes to him he begins painting her. This Portrait of Jennie takes a very long time to complete as her visits are sparse & short. I was enthralled by each appearance of Jennie and so eager for the next meeting between Eben and Jennie, the mysterious girl/woman.
The author has created wonderful minor characters in the gentleman & lady who own the gallery where he sells & attempts to sell his work. Also the character of Gus, the taxi driver, the owner of the cafe, & Eben's painter friend are marvelous characters.

When I reached the end of the book I wanted to take it up and read it again. It is a book in my collection that I am certain I will be reading again and again as time passes. This is truly a timeless classic, a lovely story. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Jan 26, 2014 |
A delicate and subtle story that seems not quite real. First found in high school, and loved ever since. The story of an artist and his muse - a little girl he meets at twilight, who is more than she seems. ( )
1 vote MerryMary | Feb 20, 2007 |
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Eben Adams is a young painter in Depression-era New York just looking to make a living. His work has thus far left influential art dealers unimpressed. Then Eben happens upon a young schoolgirl named Jennie in Central Park. Intrigued by her mystical quality and her knowledge of things that happened well before her time, Eben begins to sketch a portrait of the young girl. The drawing turns out to be the most emotional piece Eben has ever done, and he finally gets the boost in his career he's been seeking. But before he can finish the portrait, Jennie vanishes.Saddened by the loss of his muse, he begins to scour the city for her, and when he does find her again, he is shocked to discover that she has aged several years since their last meeting. Who is this girl, and where did she come from?This supernatural love story is a masterpiece of modern fantasy.… (more)

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