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Authenticity
     

Authenticity

by Deirdre Madden
 

"A pitch-perfect depiction of the reality of the artistic life." —The Observer

"Excuse me?" She glanced back over her shoulder. He was looking at her with an expression of utter desolation, such as one rarely saw, an expression that literally stopped her in her tracks.

When painter Roderic Kennedy meets Julia Fitzpatrick, twenty years

Overview

"A pitch-perfect depiction of the reality of the artistic life." —The Observer

"Excuse me?" She glanced back over her shoulder. He was looking at her with an expression of utter desolation, such as one rarely saw, an expression that literally stopped her in her tracks.

When painter Roderic Kennedy meets Julia Fitzpatrick, twenty years younger and also an artist, it seems as though a long spell of turbulance and misfortune in his life—including alcoholism and a broken marriage—has finally come to an end. But when Julia has a chance meeting with a desperately unhappy stranger, this brief yet powerful encounter sets in motion a chain of events that has dramatic consequences for all three.

Set in Ireland, Authenticity is a mesmerizing exploration of living the creative life as well as the cost of neglecting it. With a seamless tapestry of voices in various forms—self-reflection, memory, conversations—Madden offers a remarkable and moving novel that reaches from the bottom of the soul to the moment of inspiration.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is an ideas-driven richly textured novel about what it means to be an artist in contemporary society . . . Authenticity is a powerfully moral book, concerned with the choices one makes in life.” —The Sunday Telegraph
Kirkus Reviews
In a welcome change from tales of bog-Irish poverty, Madden portrays 21st-century Dublin populated by a thriving middle class-and by three visual artists who, beckoned by a higher calling, decline to participate at great personal cost. The art world cognoscenti consider Roderic Kennedy's large-scale abstract paintings Irish treasures equal to the Book of Kells. But for his artistic achievements Roderic paid dearly: a ten-year bout with alcoholism, a ruined marriage, three alienated daughters and the near destruction of Dennis, his devoted banker-brother. Finally stabilized and painting again, Roderic meets Julia Fitzgerald, a 25-year-old conceptual artist living on tea, toast and artistic resolve. Dennis is fearful; such commitments were Roderic's undoing in the past. But Roderic seems content to remain just friends with Julia, a fellow traveler on an aesthetic journey-until Julia has a chance meeting with William Armstrong, a middle-aged lawyer who long ago studied art and now realizes that he has disregarded his vocation at his own peril. Julia's commitment to helping William re-find his artistic way irrevocably changes the lives of all three. Madden (One by One in the Darkness, 1996, shortlisted for the Orange Prize, etc.) takes on the daunting task of dramatizing the creative life, and the sweep of her book is ambitious, making use of dialogue about artistic process, interior monologues on masterpieces in museums, memory, hallucinations and dreams, plus childhood flashbacks and the particulars of the contemporary lives and personal entanglements of each artist, all told through viewpoints that shift from chapter to chapter. If the narrative drive eventually stalls, it's only becausethe author's dedication to her subject-why artists choose the lives they lead-outruns the reader's engagement with her characters: they're so earnest that their ultimate actions leave little room for guesswork. Still, an elegant novel of ideas, written by an author committed to her art.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555974213
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
05/28/2005
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 8.94(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Deidre Madden is from Northern Ireland. Her novels include The Birds of Innocent Wood, Remembering Light and Stone, Nothing Is Black, and One by One in the Darkness.

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