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A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina…

A Piece of the World: A Novel

by Christina Baker Kline

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Engaging story of the life of a disabled woman who was the model for Wyeth’s famous “Christina’s World.” Delicately paced with lovely prose, a book that gives meaning and inspiration to a life and Wyeth’s painting. ( )
  dugmel | Oct 13, 2017 |
I've seen the famous painting "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth but never stopped to think that the subject might be a real person. This book is a fictionalized account of that person, Christina Olson, who suffered a crippling disability. In time, she could not walk and had to pull herself across the ground with her elbows - she refused to use a wheel chair and shunned pity and most assistance. She led an isolated, austere life - a life that struck me as both tragic but, in the end, uplifting. This is really a very good book, and I admire the author's desire to illuminate and enlarge our understanding of snippets of history about which we might otherwise know very little. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Oct 11, 2017 |
Again Christina Baker Kline takes a moment in history and puts it under a microscope for her readers to explore and better understand. I know the artist, but didn't know the background to the painting. ( )
  bookczuk | Oct 11, 2017 |
A Piece of the World
Christina Baker Kline

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PUBLISHER William Morrow
PUBLISHED February 21, 2017

A beautifully lyrical but profound novel about family, friendships, passion and art.

Andrew Wyeth painted an iconic work of art in 1948 titled Christina's World. The painting shows a young dark haired woman in a pink dress lying twisted in a green field and gazing up longingly at a old grey weather beaten farmhouse in the distance. What's the backstory to this artwork? Who was Christina? A PIECE OF THE WORLD is a work of fiction which chronicles the brave but simple life of Christina Olsen.

We first meet Christina in 1896, as a young girl of three, on her sickbed with a fever. It was an illness she never fully recovered from, it affected the muscles and bones in her legs. While she could walk it was painful and she was never totally in control of her leg muscles. She lurched as she walked and would often trip on uneven ground. She faced many challenges growing up: poverty, disability, ridicule and limited education. At a young age Christina was forced to quit school to help her mother and grandmother with the many responsibilities around the farm. She cooked, cleaned, laundered, gathered eggs and eventually took care of her ailing parents. She never complained about her pain or her responsibilities. Until she was introduced to a new friend, Walton, her only companions were her three brothers Alvaro, Sam and Fred.

Christina was smart, shy, stubborn, courageous and full of perseverance. But broken dreams and promises follow Christina. She never marries and continues to live in the farmhouse, with Alvaro, her younger brother. She is a very private, proud and resourceful woman.

One summer day in 1939, Andrew Wyeth and Betsy James, a neighbor girl who soon becomes his wife, drive up to the farmhouse in an old station wagon. Wyeth, who is twenty-two is enthralled with the old dilapidated farmhouse, he wants to paint it. "I'll bet I could paint it for a hundred years and never get tired of it." he says. He asks Christina if he can use an upstairs bedroom for painting. The lighting is perfect. Christina and Wyeth become friends, spending time together sharing stories over pie at the kitchen table. It's a friendship of shared perils, values and understanding. She is old enough to be his mother, yet in the iconic painting he affectionately portrays her as much younger woman.

"The truth is, this place--this house, this field, this sky--may only be a small piece of the world. But Betsey's right: it is the entire world to me."


Christina Baker Kline's atmospheric writing evoked a peaceful feeling as I read this book. A feeling and a book that I didn't want to end. Christina's character breathes in this book, she was at times stubborn, angry, spiteful and frustrated, and at other times happy, nostalgic, emboldened and proud. I felt empathy for this portrayal of the life of Christina Olsen. The chapters in A PIECE OF THE WORLD creatively alternate between Christina's interaction with Wyeth, and Christina's life story. The organization of the story in the book is simply masterful. Kline's writing is beautifully lyrical and yet profound.

With this novel, Wyeth's painting, Christina's World comes to life. A girl who wanted more, dreamt of more, but has come to peace with her world as it is, a simple life in the farmhouse on the hill. While a work of fiction, this story make sense overlaid with this painting. I loved Kline's creativity in creating a backstory full of emotion and interaction. The Author Notes at the end of the book are a must read, and have in fact, motivated me to read more about the real Christina Olsen and Andrew Wyeth.

Christina Baker Kline is an award winning American novelist. She is the author of seven novels, including the New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train.

"He did get one thing right: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I've spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me." ( )
  LisaSHarvey | Sep 10, 2017 |
A painting a lot of us have seen before. One I never really gave much thought too. From that starting point a story I would never have guessed. I picked this up for my book discussion groups next month and ended up really enjoying it. So much to talk about. I hope my two groups like it! ( )
  JJbooklvr | Aug 28, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
In her lyrical new novel, “A Piece of the World,” Christina Baker Kline uncovers Ms. Olson’s diamond-sharp mind and flawed heart, which longs for someone to rescue her from a life circumscribed by hardship and geography.....
Christina Baker Kline has taken this powerfully creepy icon of American art and fleshed out the real-life story behind it, using the historical figures of Wyeth and his model Christina Olson as two of her characters and following their story so closely as to be barely fiction at all. Kline's portrait of her main character is moving in an unsentimental way as she evokes the New England landscape, the torment of crippling disease, and the piece of history embodied in Olson's story....
Christina Baker Kline sets herself a stark challenge in her new novel — giving flesh to the back story of the woman who crawls across a desolate field in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting, “Christina’s World.”...Christina Baker Kline sets herself a stark challenge in her new novel — giving flesh to the back story of the woman who crawls across a desolate field in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting, “Christina’s World.”
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"There was a very strange connection.  One of those odd collisions that happen.  We were a little alike; I was an unhealthy child that was kept at home.  So there was an unsaid feeling between us that was wonderful, an utter naturalness.  We'd sit for hours and not say a word, and then she'd say something and I'd answer her.  A reporter once asked her what we talked about.  She said, 'Nothing foolish.'"
---Andrew Wyeth
For my father, who showed me the world
First words
Later he told me he'd been afraid to show me the painting.
"It is a terrible thing to find the love of your life,
Christina, " she says. "You know too well what you're missing when it's gone."
Even in the midst if a pleasurable outing I'm aware of how ephemeral it is.  The water is warm but will cool.  The ocean is a sheet if glass, but wind is picking up, far across the horizon.  The bonfire is roaring but will dwindle.  Walton is beside me, his arm around my shoulder, but all too soon he will be gone.
Hours accumulate like snow, recede like the tide.
. . . there are many ways to love and be loved.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062356267, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:02:07 -0400)

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