18114101

 

I Always Loved You: A Novel

By: Robin Oliveira

Released February 4th, 2014 by Viking Adult

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction-French, Impressionist Art

Rating: Three Stars

Acquired: Via netgalley

 

Mary Cassatt had admired always admired Degas as an artist; what came after she never expected

It’s 1877 and American artist Mary Cassatt is almost at her wit’s end, living in Paris, rejected by the Salon for the first time. She is becoming broke, with her father telling her to come home. Not knowing what to do, it is when she meets the impressionist painter she admires most that she decides to stay in Paris, until her death many years later. Edgar Degas is difficult, needy, brilliant, and ever the match for Mary. Spanning years, the novel details their tumultuous relationship; the ups- with encouragement, exhibitions, a few kisses, and kind words; and downs- periods of being frozen out, rude comments,not so chivalrous actions, and slight betrayals. The relationship, often hot and cold is hard to decipher on many ends.

Told in third person narrative, Mary Cassatt and Degas’s relationship isn’t the only plot in the novel. Also taking narrative is Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot’s somewhat twisted love affair, as well. There were many famous French Impressionist name drops. However, these two couples were the center points; Degas and  Cassatt taking center stage, with Cassatt’s story the primary focus.

Growing up in a house with posters of Renoir’s and Monet’s’ loving French impressionists, I was excited to read this book. I have always loved the French culture, specifically Paris, having visited there three times. I liked learning about the complicated relationship between Degas and Cassatt;but, mostly learning about her since I did not know much about her. I found Degas, sadly, whiny, immature, rude, and not a nice guy. He would allude to the almost affair Manet was having with his brother’s wife, Berthe; make promises he wouldn’t keep, like an art show and an art journal because it wouldn’t benefit him. He didn’t care it affected other people.

The novel, to me, started off slow. It took me over a hundred pages to really get into it; but, I don’t think I ever was fully immersed in Nineteenth Century Paris as I hoped I would be. The descriptions were there, I just didn’t feel it as much. It did like the narrative; the writing style wasn’t very unique, or vibrant, but had consistency and was enjoyable enough. I wouldn’t highly recommend this book, but if you do like to read historical fiction novels about art, this isn’t a bad novel to choice. It focuses on a love story that isn’t very romantic at all, more platonic than focusing on art techniques; but you as a reader can still learn and appreciate certain aspects about the Impressionist movement in the late Nineteenth Century.

 

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