Welcome to Day 3 of the 12 Days of Victorine. You know how much I love art in fiction, and if you’re here, I imagine you’re partial to it as well. Today, here’s a list of my top five favorite art in fiction novels (in no particular order). If you have an art or literature lover on your list, or if you need something to relax with, you’re welcome.
Irving Stone’s Lust for Life is one of my very favorite novels. Its subject is Vincent Van Gogh, and if you thought you adored Van Gogh, read this and you’ll absolutely want to shelter him against all of the harms (imagined and real) that threatened to stifle this artist.
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham might rival with Lust for my affections. Poor Philip Carey wants so badly to be an artist, only to discover he’s never going to be a decent one. Then he transfers his obsession for art to Mildred, a peculiar, green-complexioned woman he will end up wishing he had never met. Wicked before it existed.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë is an early example of an artist, in this case a woman (though fictional) artist, being written about. Do I even need to recommend this? She’s a Brontë. Read her. (More on this novel later.)
Maugham hits my list again with The Moon and Sixpence, and why wouldn’t he try to capture the essence of Gauguin, albeit a fictionalized version, a man he calls Charles Strickland? There’s an art to writing about the greats, and naturally, Maugham gets it right.
Last but certainly not least, Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman by Sena Jeter Naslund is a novel-within-a-novel telling both the story of author Kathryn Callaghan and her subject, Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun, portrait painter of Marie Antoinette and others. Full disclosure: I workshopped Victorine with Jeter Naslund, but regardless, I adore this novel and I’m willing to bet you will, too.
Trust me, I have a long list of art in fiction books I adore, but I thought I’d give you a small sampling today to whet your appetite. Let me know what your favorite novel dealing with art is. Have you read any of the above?