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The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman

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  • Posted November 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    'The Fountain of St. James Court; or Portrait of the Artist as a

    'The Fountain of St. James Court; or Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman' is a beautiful story of the intertwining lives of a contemporary writer - Kathryn Callaghan - and the historic painter - Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun. Kathryn has written a novel about the artist and her life during the French Revolution. Kathryn becomes so wrapped up in Elisabeth's life and the time period of eighteenth-century Europe that she's finding it hard to come back to her own life in modern day America.

    This novel is essentially a story-within-a-story, telling the tales of two separate yet connected main characters. Kathryn Callaghan is a modern writer who has decided to write a novel about the life of Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun. As Kathryn delves further into Elisabeth's life and the time period in which she lived, she finds herself connected to the painter in ways she never expected. Aside from Kathryn's modern day story, we also get to read about Elisabeth's life - her own story - of how she lived, painted, and her achievements. The two women are actually quite similar despite the fact that they are separated by centuries. Both Kathryn and Elisabeth are driven artists who fight to live the life they dreamed of by practicing their crafts of writing and painting. Both women go through difficult and trying times alongside their joy and achievements, which makes them incredibly realistic and accessible to the reader. The use of a novel-within-a-novel device was an interesting choice by the author and I wondered if it would work out well or turn out to be confusing to the reader. The author manages to write both women's stories with incredible detail and description so they are easily identified from one another without confusion - and yet the reader is able to see how much the two are alike. The writing was very well done with a natural flow and an engaging narrative that drew me in from the first pages. Highly recommended for fans of both contemporary and historical fiction!

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 11, 2013

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    Posted August 30, 2014

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    Posted September 18, 2014

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