Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Piece of the World (Book Review)

Title: A Piece of the World
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Publication: William Morrow, Trade Paperback, 2018 (originally published 2017)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world is her family farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. The only daughter in a family of sons, Christina is tied to her home by health and circumstance, and seems destined for a small life. Instead, she becomes Andrew Wyeth’s first great inspiration, and the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World.

As she did in Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction to vividly reimagine a real moment in history. A Piece of the World is a powerful story of the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, her complicated relationship to her family and inheritance, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Audience: Fans of historical fiction, books set in New England; those who look at a painting and wonder about the people in it.

My Impressions: This is the third book by Kline I have read, and by far the best; I was completely captivated from beginning to end, and couldn’t wait to recommend it to my younger sister (can there be greater praise?). The author answers questions the rest of us had never gotten around to articulating but yes, now we realize we too wanted to know more about Christina and her world. Kline creates quiet characters whose personalities are larger than life as their strength is revealed.

The story moves back and forth from the past to the then-present in a way that is logical instead of jarring, as the author reveals family conflict and secrets. Christina’s story is sad and painful, and Cushing, Maine is not really the kind of place one wants to visit, but when she leaves briefly it is startling to realize she has never been farther from home than one ill-omened medical visit to Rockland. Fortunately, a kind train conductor makes sure that Christina and her brother get the most out of their first train trip when they travel to see a friend in Boston. There are many little details that show how difficult life was in rural Maine and that Christina was separated from the world not simply by a mysterious illness that crippled her but also physical isolation and parents who actively prevented her from expanding her horizons.  In Orphan Train, I much preferred the historical story to the present but here the timeline is all in the past, albeit at various times during Christina's life.

Purchase Links: Harper Collins Barnes & Noble Amazon IndieBound
Other: This paperback edition includes a color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, along with a Q&A with bestselling author Kristin Hannah that would be suitable for book groups, also a bonus short story, “Stranded in Ice” about Christina’s unpleasant father.

Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes.  You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews below:
Thursday, February 1st: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, February 5th: Instagram: @a_tad_bit_bookish
Wednesday, February 7th: BookNAround
Friday, February 9th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 12th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, February 14th: Life By Kristen
Thursday, February 15th: Man of La Book
Monday, February 19th: Book by Book
Tuesday, February 20th: Rockin’ and Reviewing
Wednesday, February 21st: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Friday, February 23rd: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Sunday, February 25th: Instagram: @lavieestbooks
Monday, February 26th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Caryn, The Book Whisperer


trish said...

Considering the rave reviews her other books have received, I'm impressed that you think this one's the best!

Thank you for being on this tour!

JaneGS said...

I've loved this painting since I was a kid--my parents had a large book of Wyeth's paintings, and I've been wanting to read this book. I like books like this, in general, and I'm glad you liked it.