Although Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue remains my favorite, I walso enjoyed this look at the life of Emily Carr, a Canadian painter I had never heard of before. Vreeland vividly describes Carr's passion for capturing the vanishing art of the Indians of British Columbia and her desire to find her own vision as an artist. The Native American characters in the book are poignant but dignified, and the sorrow of their fractured culture runs as an undercurrent through the entire book. Carr's character is well-drawn, particularly as she ages and questions the value of all she has worked for. I like the way Vreeland writes about art.
When I bought this book I really had no idea what it was about. The title and cover were what intrigued me. It turned out to be a truly excellent book, based on the life of Canadian artist Emily Carr who lived during the Victorian era. Truly magnificent.
I love Susan Vreeland's books and for some reason I hadn't read this before. I feel like this is her best. Emily, an artist in British Columbia, in the first decades of the twentieth century, has great depth of character, the focus on the Fauvist art movements and native Canadian tribal issues and artwork are well-researched and worked into a novel well.
I read this book through to the end, thinking it was a true story of the life of an unusual artist, and I suppose much of it is true. However, I felt outraged to learn--was it in the foreword, or at the end of the book?--that the whole story of the love affair with the French fur trader had been made up. That, and something in the tone of the writing, spoiled it for me, though I will admit that I enjoyed reading some of the parts that discussed the artist's technique.