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Topic: 2009 H/F - #7 - Patron of the Arts

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Subject: 2009 H/F - #7 - Patron of the Arts
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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7. Be a patron of the arts! Read one book about a famous work of art, music, or the theatre.



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 8:46 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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I chose Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, and really enjoyed it.  I kept going to a Vermeer site on Wikipedia to look at images of his paintings that were mentioned in the novel, which added to the enjoyment of the book as well as adding to my rather limited knowledge of art.  It's a fairly short novel, less than 300 pages, very readable, certainly worth one's time.  I plan to read some more by this author. 4 1/2 / 5.  1/12/09

Linda



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 11:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 10:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I loved Girl also.  It's funny but I had a copy of that painting hanging in my livingroom long before the book or movie ever came out.  I always felt she was just about to tell me something about herself!

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 8:57 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I really loved GWAPE too. It was my first Chevalier book and now that I have read them all, except Burning Bright, it is still my favorite.

Have you seen the movie? I still haven't seen it, but it's on my list of movies to rent one day.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Well, I read the book two days ago, got the dvd from Netflix this morning and watched it this afternoon.  I enjoyed the movie, the casting was very appropriate, altho I wanted Pieter, the boyfriend, to have blond curls.  Maybe it's because I just finished the book, but it seems to me that someone watching the movie who had NOT read the book might have some unanswered questions at the end of the movie.  All in all, I'm glad that this challenge pushed me into reading the novel, and into watching the movie.  I will read more of Chevalier's novels, and probably be more aware of Vermeer as a painter. 

Linda

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 9:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I haven't seen the movie, but have read the book.  I saw Tracy Chevalier speak a few years ago, and she said that the movie had exactly the feel of a Vermeer painting, which I thought was a ringing endorsement.

I just ordered a book that will fit this number for the challenge - I Am Madame X by Gioia Deliberto - I found it through the "newly listed in your genre feature.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I'm glad so many seem to like Chevalier.  I've never read anything of hers before, but her book The Lady & The Unicorn is the book I've chosen for this challenge.  Now, if I ever get to it . . .

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 2:15 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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The movie of GWAPE is lovely, gorgous lightiing. I think I liked it better than the book, but I may have just been under the influence of Colin Firth.

I have The Lady and the Unicorn lurking around here somewhere, maybe I'll read that for this challenge, too, Shelley. :-)

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,300
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I finished The Shape of Illusion by William E Barrett, written in 1971. I have never read a book such as this before. It was definitely in the spiritual genre. A painting of Christ outside of Pilate's balcony with the crowd jeering him is shown to 4 friends of the owner of the art gallery. The artist is an unknown and the painting dates back to the 17th century. Of the 4 friends, one is an artist himself  and he recognizes this painting as an exceptional work of art. The strange thing about the work is that everyone who looks at it sees themselves in the jeering crowd. The artist  (Kirk) travels to Germany which is the home of the original artist to find out what he can about him - btw, Kirk is an agnostic. He meets a woman (another American) doing a magazine write up on the Passion Play which is performed in the German city of Friedheim every 10 yrs and she is a devout Catholic. Her devotion gradually starts to break his cynicism. More is learned about the painting, but not enough , as far as I was concerned.

I thought that this book left too many loose ends. I would not read it again and I would not recommend it to anyone!  So there!!!

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Jeanne ... thanks for the great review ... I love a definite thumbs up or thumbs down.

 



Last Edited on: 2/1/09 10:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/1/2009 8:02 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,300
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Kelly, now that I've read the above book, I think I will go to something fun like Boodmarked For Death, by Lorna Barrett and RECOVER!

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I picked up The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland and realized it would fit the challenge, so that's what I read. I liked Vreeland's book Girl in Hyacinth Blue, and this one was almost as good. It's about Canadian painter Emily Carr, who painted Indian totem poles and the wilderness of British Columbia in the early twentieth century. I enjoyed the author's insight into how an artist struggles to make her work meaningful and technically satisfying, and the parallel plot of the destruction of the Native Americans' communities was truly wrenching. Overall a sad book, but nicely written.



Last Edited on: 2/10/09 9:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/10/2009 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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I'm still struggling to come up with a book that will fit this challenge -- I've read all the Chevalier and Vreeland books mentioned.  

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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Marci,

If it ever gets here from another book swap site which shall not be named (I had more credits there so I thought I'd order it from there) the book I'm reading for the challenge isI Am Madame X by Giolia Diliberto.

Another option if you haven't read it is the Passion of Artemesia by Susan Vreeland. I'd not remembered that she'd written it, so you may have read it.

Date Posted: 2/11/2009 9:18 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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Marci,

For this one, I plan on reading Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett.

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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I picked up "With Violets" by Elizabeth Robards at the library today.  It's subtitled A Novel of the Dawn of Impressionism so I think it'll fit this category.  The artists in the story are Edouard Manet and Bethe Morisot, with appearances by Monet, Degas and Pissarro (based on the back cover synopsis - Degas has already appeared).  It's okay - nothing earth shattering, but it's a new to me author and artist (Morisot), so I'll finish it unless it gets to be drek.

Date Posted: 2/25/2009 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Like Linda, I read Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier to fulfill this challenge.

We all love learning (we wouldn't read HF if we didn't) and we all love learning in a fun and interesting manner (otherwise we could start with the A book of Encyclopedia Britannica). Thus, any book that teaches us something AND is packaged in a beautiful piece of historical fiction is worthy of note and deserving of favorable ratings. And GWAPE fits both requirements and is deserving of a positive review.

I enjoyed Girl With a Pearl Earring and I will read more by this author. It is not so much Chevalier's writing that is the draw, it is the story she is telling about Vermeer and his family and about life in this Dutch town where they lived. Ms. Chevalier does an excellent job portraying the life of her characters and the various settings are real.  I particularly enjoyed all the scenes that took place in the Market. 

We also get a real understanding of the difference in people's lifestyles and the daily activities of people living in a Dutch town in the 1660’s.

However, without the internet as a companion resource, the book would have been somewhat flat. The book is not just about this one painting of Vermeer's, it discusses several & to be able to look at them via the internet throughout my reading was not only of enormous benefit; it was crucial to my overall understanding & enjoyment. I wish the publisher could have (would have) included the pictures within the book.

 

Date Posted: 2/25/2009 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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Mimi, I read "Madame X" a while back and thought it was quite good. I think you'll enjoy it.

Kelly, GWAPE remains my favorite of all Chevalier's books, but I have to agree that prints of the paintings really should have been included. Being able to view the paintings online made the story all that much more vivid and alive.

I have been meaning to watch the movie for ages now, just can't seem to get around to it.

Date Posted: 4/2/2009 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Since I bailed (at least temporarily - until Michelle or someone else tells me the book improves, LOL!) on April's BOM, I'm going to start my book for this challenge tonight - The Lady & The Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.  Anyone read this one?  It'll be my first Chevalier.  I know The Girl With The Pearl Earring is popular here, but I've not heard may comments on TL&TU.

Date Posted: 4/2/2009 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I loved Lady and the Unicorn - I thought it was fantastic, better than TGWTPE, which was very good.

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 8:24 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Marci--I've just begun I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalgoridis for my HF#7, have you read that already?

 

I'm liking it!  And, Linda, I, too, adored GWAPE and thought Scarlett Johannson was just perfect in the movie. and Janelle, Colin Firth didn't hurt!

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 9:45 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Well, so far I am loving The Lady and The Unicorn!  Awesome book!  Are the other Chevaliers similar? 

Colleen - Forgot to mention - nice to see you around here again! 

Subject: Challenge Complete!
Date Posted: 4/4/2009 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Just completed this challenge!  I finished The Lady & The Unicorn earlier this evening.  I absolutely LOOOOOOOOVED this book.  I loved how it was told in the first person by several different characters.  It really kept the book alive and fresh throughout.  I appreciated the fact that there were full color pictures of the tapestries in the book.  I referred to them constantly, and I also went and viewed the full tapestries on-line.  They are so beautiful, and this book gave me an understanding and an appreciation of them that I normally wouldn't have had, not typically being an "art" person.  All in all, this was just an awesome book, and I'm so happy to have read it!

Well, 3 challenges down, only 7 plus the bonus to go! 

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Shelley, Thanks !!! for your comments ... this will definitely be the next Tracy Chevalier book I read. By the time I was finished w/ Girl/Pearl Earring, I was mildy disappointed for rather vague reasons, but nonetheless, I'm delighted to have one to look forward to based on another's review!

Kelly

 

Subject: Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
Date Posted: 4/5/2009 7:31 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
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This may not be what Valli had in mind with this challenge but ...tough.  Okay, if I get time, i may read something more typical :)

I'll try to write a little more on it later (briefly) but here's a bit from Wikipedia which explains the title anyway and why I think it might qualify for the challenge:

Morality plays are a type of allegory in which the protagonist is met by personifications of various moral attributes who try to prompt him to choose a godly life over one of evil. The plays were most popular in Europeduring the 15th and 16th century. Having grown out of the religiously based mystery of the Middle Ages, they represented a shift towards a more secular base for European theatre."

You can actually buy a study guide for this one. The book itself is 226pp, pub. 1996

I am going to quote the excellent synopsis from the B&N website:  "Nicholas Barber is a twenty-three-year-old priest who, fearing the wrath of the bishop for breaking his vows of chastity, takes up with a troupe of traveling players. Coming to a small town in the middle of winter, the troupe puts on their usual morality play but gets caught up in a drama of a different kind: a murder has taken place, and a mute-and-deaf girl stands condemned, awaiting execution. Seeing an opportunity to attract a larger audience than ever, the players go through the town collecting information about the murder, which they weave into their next performance. As they perform, the story takes on a life of its own. Soon they learn that their drama is far closer to the dangerous truth than they originally imagined - and they are summoned to perform for the local potentate, the powerful Lord de Guise, who has his own reasons to be interested in their version of events. Bringing fourteenth-century England to vibrant life, Barry Unsworth deftly shows us a time that is far off yet strangely familiar, where underneath medieval trappings lie the same corruption and moral dilemmas we face today."



Last Edited on: 4/5/09 7:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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