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A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina…
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A Piece of the World: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Christina Baker Kline (Author)

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1,3028314,994 (3.87)74
Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:

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.

.
… (more)
Member:karennovakoski
Title:A Piece of the World: A Novel
Authors:Christina Baker Kline (Author)
Info:William Morrow (2017), Edition: First Edition, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:to-read

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A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

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Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
For those that like literary fiction this is the book for you. This is the story of Christina Olson's life. She is the woman who posed for Andrew Wyeth in the famous painting "Christina's World". In the painting she is in the grass, looking towards the house where she lived with her brother. Christina had a disease that in later years, eventually kept her from walking. She would scoot around in a chair in the house or if she went outdoors, she usually crawled. Andrew Wyeth was obsessed with her home, which was large and he took over a bedroom and used it as his studio. It was interesting to learn how Christina coped with her life. She always felt "different" and had trouble making friends and letting people into her life. ( )
  dara85 | Jul 8, 2024 |
What a wonderful listen!!!

I have a special place in my heart for the artists Wyeth as my Wyeth was named after them. A little known fact is that Andrew Wyeth’s father, NC Wyeth’s first name was actually Newell, that is what the N stood for! Pretty fun stuff!

I have been to the Olsen House and have taken pictures there and walked around the property (although now I really want to go again!) it is a beautiful area, but it is easy to see how it must have been a lonely place too. A person had to have certain strength to live where Christina did and to care for her family and maintain the house despite her disability. But that strength could easily become hard and dark I can imagine and I think the growth in her character in this story was realistic and beautiful. ( )
  snewell2 | Jun 24, 2024 |
S L O W ( )
  Tosta | Aug 24, 2023 |
The author of the very popular Orphan Train tackles the backstory of Andrew Wyeth's famous painting, "Christina's World." Personally, I love the idea of using artwork as a premise of a book, and one of the high points of the novel is its historical accuracy. Kline clearly does her homework (perhaps too well; more on that later), and she's excellent at description, so the house in the picture can be well imagined by the reader including all the amount of work it took for its upkeep.

Unfortunately, you know if I'm pointing out that the descriptions of chores is a highlight, that's not a good sign.

Kline sacrifices almost every modicum of suspense in her storytelling to historical accuracy and character development. Unfortunately, her leading character, Christina, is basically depressed, ill, and boring and stubborn and often selfish. She's really the only character that is fully realized, and she's pitiable, but not likable. Kline attempts to somehow talk the reader into seeing Christina differently at the end of the story, but 10 chapters are hard to erase with some poetic uplifting language at the end. I'm not a person who needs to like a character to enjoy a book, but I do need the character to evolve somehow and/or do something interesting. Christina does neither.

Other than a romance between Christina and Harvard student, Walton, which was nicely done and by far the highlight of the book, there's nothing to the plot. If Christina wants something (other than Walton) it's not articulated, nor does she go after it. Granted, she is ill and crippled, so going after much of anything is difficult, but still. Wyeth was more interesting to me as he struggles to capture his subjects, but his story is a fraction of the tale, and mostly consists of he painted this, then he tried to paint that. There's no tension. The lack of tension is not helped by Kline's love of going back and forth in historical time chapter by chapter. This kinda worked in Orphan Train. I didn't think it worked here, and it made a slow plot even slower.

There is an interesting theme in the book about our own self perception versus the perception others have of us. I think this makes a good topic for book discussion groups, and is a redeeming feature of the story.

Kline really does her homework, and she articulates exactly what is true (lots) and what is not, but she also is a writer who feels the need to include everything she has learned in the story. This lead to a very boring first quarter of the book . . .that was barely relevant to anything going forward.

All in all, this book has its redeeming qualities: strong historical research, a viable romance, and some beautifully descriptive writing. But to me, it was so boring that I just couldn't like it (and believe me, I was trying because I think I'm the only person in the world giving it two stars). If you can't wait for a book to end, it's pretty hard to give it anything higher.

p.s. If you loved this book, please forgive me. I'm definitely in a minority! Not sure what's going on, but I feel like my taste has really diverged from the mainstream in the past few years . . .and it is actually annoying to me! I want to like what others enjoy so I can share in that delight. Lately, it just hasn't been happening. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
The story behind Wyeth's painting and the Olson family was interesting, but I didn't feel there was enough meat to make an entire novel. Slow and character-driven. ( )
  CarolHicksCase | Mar 12, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (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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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
For my father, who showed me the world
First words
Later he told me he'd been afraid to show me the painting.
Quotations
"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.
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Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:

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.

.

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