Friday, May 28, 2010

More Pre-Raphaelite Fiction

So, I've been horribly remiss in posting here. Part of that is a great reason...I've been distracted by offline enjoyments, like running my first 5k race. But I do hope to start posting here more often again. I'm getting a little bit of a backlog of post ideas I want to share!
First, I wanted to share with you three new fiction titles with links to the Pre-Raphaelites.

First, of course, there's A.S. Byatt's new book, The Children's Book. I've read about half of this so far, and I'm greatly enjoying all the references to William Morris (on every other page it seems, since several protagonists of this book are Victorian decorative artists). It's a fascinating look into the philosophies, alternate lifestyles, and artistic expressions of the Victorian era. Really, really good, but also really dense. Don't expect to read it in a night.

There was one scene of this book that was especially poignant to me, in which one character reflects on her love for her husband, and how she understands his dalliances with other women as being simply because he loves women and beauty so much, he can't help but celebrate it. (I'm probably getting that paraphrase horribly wrong) My immediate thought was of Georgiana Burne-Jones and her husband Ned. Despite his philandering ways, I still somehow think of him with more fondness than Rossetti and his wandering eye, because Ned always just seemed to appreciate things that were lovely.

The second book is Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman. Set in an artist's college in upper state New York that was founded in the early 1900s to give female artists a place to practice their crafts without worry of financial strain or criticism, this book takes place in the modern day. The setting is absolutely wonderful, with beautiful old manor-like buildings filled with dark woodwork, thick curtains, and beautiful art. William Morris is mentioned a few times, and of course the whole artistic colony began in an era inspired by the Brotherhood. The book has a few farfetched plot points, but is still a great guilty-pleasure read.

The third book is The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier. I immediately recognized the William Morris wallpaper design on the front cover, and when I read that the book was about the renovation of a ramshackle Victorian house, I gave it a read. The book itself is rather light on the plot, with not the best character development, but the description of the house transforming into a new beautiful home is delightful. William Morris is mentioned a few times when discussing wallpaper patterns chosen for the new home.


Medieval Muse said...

I was given a copy of The Children's Book for my birthday, so it is on my reading list as well. Good to hear so many favorable reviews.

Grace said...

Definitely a great book! It's still taking me a while to read, but I really enjoy it.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

OMG I AM SOOO EXCITED TO SEE YOU BACK IN FULL SWING! ran your first race, Grace! ANd look at all the lovely recommendations you have for us lovers of childrens' books....OMG there is so much to catch up on! Dearest, it is really so good to see you again! Come back again soon!!! Anita

Grace said...

Thank you Anita! I'm quite happy to be back :) Running the 5k was a really big accomplishment for me since I always hated physical activity. Not anymore!!