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When she turns 30 in 1958, Juliet Montague has been an aguna for several years after her husband, George, abandoned her and their children. The term is used by her Anglo-Jewish community to describe women whose husbands leave them. Being an aguna is akin to being an outcast, and because she will only be freed from her marriage if George seeks a divorce, or dies, Juliet has resigned herself to her tainted standing. Rather than let the label define her, Juliet uses her somewhat single status and the freedom it brings to propel her into a career in the art world. When she first chances upon Charlie Fussell, a young painter, Juliet has no idea that sitting for Charles will inspire numerous other portraits and thrust her into London’s art scene.
Verdict Solomon (The House at Tyneford) creates in Juliet a detailed character portrait of a woman who exhibits strength and poise under less than ideal conditions. Each chapter tells the story of one of Juliet’s paintings and of important events in her life, and readers will respond to the realistic and beautifully flawed characteristics assigned to her.—Natasha Grant, New York
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