Customer Reviews for

The Painted Kiss

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( 6 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2005

    The Inspiration for Gustav Klimt's Infamous Painting 'THE KISS'

    New author Elizabeth Hickey makes an auspicious debut with a novel based on the life of the Viennese fin-de-siècle painter Gustav Klimt as told through the eyes and memories of fashion artist Emilie Flöge. A big chunk of history from which to sift a novel - the time of such greats as Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, Egon Schiele, Oscar Kokoschka, Arnold Schönberg, Wittgenstein, etc, etc - Hickey freely admits 'The aim of historical fiction is not to render the past exactly as it happened - an impossible task - but to imagine it as it might have been', and in so stating she covers her bases for any quibbles that might arise from her readers whose depth of knowledge in art history, music history, and indeed the entire Secessionist Movement might have. Higgins has created a very readable story based on fact, and the result is a work by a writer of great promise.Emilie Flöge is introduced as a young girl, a people watcher from her middle class Viennese home, a girl who disdains the thought of pursing a career as a secretary or other 'sensible' occupation but at the same time is unsure where she wants her life to go: 'I'm the one who is always wishing for something else, something I can't have, something there's no point in missing.' The time is the infamous fin-de-siècle and Emilie is gradually introduced to a youngish painter Gustav Klimt who accepts her as a student of drawing. Klimt is a lothario, mixing his long hours before his exotic canvases with affairs with his low-class models, with any woman who will consent, and with wealthy women such as Alma Schindler and Adele Bloch-Bauer.Klimt is drawn to Emilie's unique personality and begins a long 'affaire de coeur' while encouraging Emilie to follow her own dream of becoming a fashion designer. The Secessionist Movement is Klimt's brainchild and part of this new thinking in art includes new looks in fashion, a portion of the movement Emilie directs with her sister Helen known as Schwestern Flöge. Art shows are held and emphasize Klimt's work and their careers surge. The Vienna of the Austro-Hungarian Empire crumbles with WW I and with that demise much of the artistic life of Vienna falls, too. Klimt eventually paints Emilie and creates 'The Kiss' which was intended to have Emilie and Gustav as models, but in a last moment of wanting to preserve Emilie's reputation he alters. Klimt's health fails and he dies. WW II soon thunders over Vienna and Emilie and her sister flee to their old summer refuge Kammer am Attersee: Emilie's only remnants of her involvement with Klimt and indeed her presence in the Secessionist Movement are treasured drawings including the original drawing for 'The Kiss'.A lot of territory to cover in a novel, this, but Elizabeth Hickey keeps it terse and well propelled, making all of the omissions of the times excusable. There are moments when she dwells too long on inconsequential information about sewing and cloth and the sorts of things only a seamstress would care to know, but when she focuses on painting descriptions she excels: many of the more important paintings by Klimt are set apart from the flow of the novel by a page or two of italicized information about the model of that work and the process involved. She does manage to bring into her narrative bits of information about Gustav Mahler and Egon Schiele that could have benefited by expansion. But these are all hindsight thoughts after reading what is essentially a fine first novel by a well-informed, fluid author. And for once the cover jacket of the book is an elegant full-color reproduction of a painting by Klimt, complete with the sense of gold leaf and patterned fantasy that begs the reader to open the book! Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Well written biographical fiction

    In 1944 Vienna, septuagenarian Emilie Floge fears the Nazis either absconding with or viciously destroying her most prized possessions. Willing to risk her life to see they are safe, she flees Vienna with the only things she thought important in her life, a portfolio filled with the drawings of her beloved Gustav Klimt. On the trek to her Austrian countryside hideaway, Emilie reflects back to when she was a teenager and first met her Gustav in 1886 Vienna. Her father hired the near starving artist to provide her with some rudimentary drawing lessons. .Over time they became lovers inspiring each other to greater heights though he also was a womanizer. She became a renowned designer while his paintings became popular. He turned to her for inspiration as she was his motivating muse for his most reflective work, The Kiss. This is a well written biographical fiction starring two intriguing individuals who¿s on and off love affair enhanced their artistic endeavors. The story line is loaded with historical insight especially Vienna in 1944 and the late nineteenth century; this makes for an interesting comparative analysis. Though the book is too crammed with sidebar details that never fully get integrated into the prime story line, fans of novelizations of real life persona will take much delight with what inspired the renowned PAINTED KISS................ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    Three and a half stars.
    As historical fiction goes, this book started very well, very promising but, by mid-read, it became rather conventional.
    Still it is a very readable story.
    Besides, to write about Gustav Klimt is not easy.
    The relationship between this artist and Emilie Flöge requires many more pages and lots of speculation.
    Get this book if you want something light and easy to read.

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  • Posted July 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    This is a very readable book.
    It gives us a glimpse on the relationship between Gustav Klimt and Emilie Floege.
    Read it for a light, enjoyable, fast story based on actual people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005

    Art and artists

    I was curious about the painting. I learned a great deal about artists and the people in the artistic community. I learned the truth about the price for painting what you 'think' the public wants to see. 'Different strokes (literally) for different folks.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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