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Random House
256 pages
Product Description
<b>“[Robin] Black is a writer of great wisdom, and illuminates, without undue emphasis, the flickering complexity of individual histories. . . . [Her] taut, elegant prose is both effective and affecting. . . . <i>Life Drawing</i> is at once quiet and memorable. This makes it far from fashionable, and all the more to be applauded. Its author pursues real and vital questions. Astringent and wise, Black is not afraid to discomfit her readers. This novel, like life, is uneasy: what a relief.”<b>—Claire Messud, <i>The Guardian </i>(UK)</b></b><br> <br>In <i>Life Drawing</i>, her gorgeously written first novel, Robin Black unfolds a fierce, honest, and moving portrait of a woman, and of a couple’s life—the betrayals and intimacies, the needs and regrets, the secrets that sustain love and the ones that threaten to destroy it. <br>  <br> Augusta and Owen have moved to the country, and live a quiet, and rather solitary life, Gus as a painter, Owen as a writer. They have left behind the city, and its associations to a troubled past, devoting their days to each other and their art. But beneath the surface of this tranquil existence lies the heavy truth of Gus’s past betrayal, an affair that ended, but that quietly haunts Owen, Gus and their marriage. <br>  <br> When Alison Hemmings, a beautiful British divorcée, moves in next door, Gus, feeling lonely and isolated, finds herself drawn to Alison, and as their relationship deepens, the lives of the three neighbors become more and more tightly intertwined. With the arrival of Alison’s daughter Nora, the emotions among them grow so intense that even the slightest misstep has the potential to do irrevocable harm to them all <br>  <br> With lyrical precision and taut, suspenseful storytelling, Black steadily draws us deeper into a world filled with joys and darkness, love and sorrows, a world that becomes as real as our own. <i>Life Drawing</i> is a novel as beautiful and unsparing as the human heart.<br>  <br> <b>Praise for <i>Life Drawing</i></b><br>  <br>“Suffused with a remarkably sustained emotional intensity . . . Every intimate contour of the couple’s relationship is mapped by Black with devastating accuracy. Full of insight into the fragility of marriage, this is a memorable read.”—<b><i>The Sunday Times</i> (London)</b><br>  <br> “A gorgeously written portrait of the intimate workings of a long-term relationship.”<b>—<i>Good Housekeeping</i> (UK)</b><br>  <br> “Fine-tuned and exactly observed . . . With such well-rounded characters and a highwire level of suspense, the novel builds to a devastating resolution.”<b>—<i>The Daily Mail </i>(UK)</b><br> <b> </b><br> “Black's command of the story carries us swiftly through ever more dangerous rapids. . . . She captures the various pains and pleasures of love, and how betrayal distorts and damages, with superb subtlety.”<b>—BBC</b><br>  <br> “A brutal yet tender look at marriage and creative partnership that hums with thriller-like tension . . . It might be the nearest thing to a perfect novel that I have ever read.”<b>—<i>The Bookseller</i> (UK)</b><br> <b> </b><br> “Black’s characters are three-dimensional, and her depiction of their relationships, particularly between the two women, is masterly. An astute inquiry into relationships and betrayal, this novel is nerve-wracking yet irresistibly readable.”<b>—<i>Publishers Weekly</i></b>
Random House
256 pages
Amazon.com Review
<div class="aplus"> <div class="leftImage" style="width: 250px;"><div id="image0"><img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21i9IzYwD3L.jpg" alt="" ><div class="imageCaption">Courtney Sullivan (Photo credit: Michael Lionstar)</div></div></div> <div class="rightImage" style="width: 250px;"><div id="image1"><img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/210sXFC-qOL.jpg" alt="" ><div class="imageCaption">Robin Black (photo credit: Nina Subin)<br>View larger</div></div></div> <h5><div id="header0"></div></h5> <div id="text0" class="a-spacing-small"><p>Courtney: Robin, I first fell in love with your work while reading your nonfiction essays about the writer's life. In the novel, you extend these observations on the indecision, inspiration, and doubt that all artists experience. Was it therapeutic in a way to write about these ideas through your characters? Robin: I’m so glad you’ve liked the essays. Thank you! I love writing about the creative process – in essays, and blog posts, and also in fiction. And you’re right that in a way it is therapeutic to describe what it feels like to be consumed by a creative project – or abandoned by one. Those states—both of them, the exhilarating and the depressing—are lonely ones. It’s been important for me to find ways of sharing the sensations since they so often define my daily life.</p></div> <h5><div id="header1"></div></h5> <div id="text1" class="a-spacing-small"><p>Courtney: The novel begins with two powerful epigraphs--one from Victor Hugo and one from George Eliot. How did you choose them? Were they part of the inspiration for the story, did they come first, or did you find them a fitting start to a tale you’d already created? Robin: I found the epigraphs after writing the book. I hadn’t titled it yet and was cruising through quotations looking for relevant phrases, partly to spark title ideas, possibly to use a quote as the title. I think of these two quotations as representing the two gravitational centers of Life Drawing: one being about “our dead,” the ghosts and shades we all carry, and the other being relevant to the evolution and survival of long-time romantic relationships, what it means for a person to be loved in a clear-eyed, realistic way rather than idealized. When I found those two lines and they dovetailed so perfectly with these two aspects of the work, I just had to use them.</p></div> <h5><div id="header2"></div></h5> <div id="text2" class="a-spacing-small"><p>Courtney: Novelists have so many choices when it comes to structure. I'm intrigued by the decision-making that goes into such choices. We know about a very big plot point that comes much later from the first sentence of the book. Why did you choose to tell us about that up front? I think it's a brilliant choice. Did you ever consider doing it differently? Robin: Strangely enough, the first paragraph was originally the start of another piece of fiction about entirely different people, with a completely different plot. But seventy pages in, I had hit a wall, big time. A writer friend asked me what, if anything, I liked about the work and I said: “Just the first paragraph. ” So I lifted it and started all over. Then, as I was writing the novel that became Life Drawing, I forbade myself to change those lines or take out the plot disclosure. I liked the challenge of finding my way back to it, and I liked what I think of as the tautness of a circular plot. I’m hearing from readers now that many of them forget about opening, and I’m delighted that the early disclosure hasn’t seemed to limit the suspense or surprise of the book, because that was a risk.</p></div> <div class="break"> </div> <br> <h5><div id="header3"></div></h5> <div id="list0"></div> </div>