Wilful Blue

Wilful Blue

by Sonya Hartnett

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers drawn to stories about suffering young artists will find torment aplenty in this woeful tale of a friendship cut short by suicide. Seven talented young men are commissioned to paint, sculpt and draw at Sanquedeet, a onetime monastery being converted into an artists' retreat outside Melbourne, Australia. It is here that Jesse and his new acquaintance, Guy, are assigned to do a life-size portrait of four renowned painters. Jesse makes friends easily with the other artists at Sanquedeet, but Guy remains isolated, ``nursing his scarred heart and his disappointment as vast as the world.'' Unfortunately Guy, who is fated to become a tragic hero, remains as vague as the language used to describe him: readers will find it difficult to emphathize with his emotional pain because its cause is never defined. Although Hartnett, an Australian making her American debut, offers intriguing ironies about artistry and immortality and convincingly relates Jesse's mixture of guilt and regret over his partner's untimely death, her heavy-handed approach mars the effectiveness of her writing. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Fluid, lyrical prose and deft characterizations of this Australian import paint a universal, cross-cultural portrait of the ambivalence and alienation of youthful talent in the '90s. Through a series of flashbacks, Jesse McGee and Walt Reeves describe the sudden, unexpected death of Guy DeFoe, a disaffected young artist, at a remote former monastery. Paid for their attendance at this coastal retreat by opinionated patron Harriet Finch, seven young men are assembled and assigned to produce works reflecting the glory and individuality of Australia's cultural heritage. Jesse and Guy, paired for work on a huge mural depicting four impressionist painters from the turn-of-the-century, establish a necessary, working friendship. As they paint, Jesse struggles to understand Guy's apathy toward his accomplishments and toward his life. Plagued by a recurring nightmare after his friend drowns, Jesse visits the grave site accompanied by Walt where the young men meet Grere DeFoe, who wishes to learn about her brother's last days and the baffling circumstances of his death. At a nearby pub, the men narrate events of the days at Sanquedeet, a version with a modified ending that leaves his sister forever in the dark about who he was and how he died. Only Jesse, Walt, and readers come to know the real Guy, suffering to thrive, thriving on suffering, who has lost faith in the world and in himself. YAs will find in Guy a youthful everyman possessed of powerful alienation and despair, and with Jesse they will share the guilty helplessness of survivors of suicide.-Alice Casey Smith, Monmouth County Library Headquarters, Manalapan, NJ
Karen Simonetti
This dark, brooding novel uses voices from the past and present to tell the story of Guy, a 23-year-old Australian artist who commits suicide. The plot focuses on the young man's final months at an artist's retreat and his friendship with Jesse, another artist. The nonlinear plot jumps back and forth between the young men's arrival at the retreat, the budding friendship, Guy's death, and Jesse's confusion and obsession over Guy's suicide. Although the story does probe survivors' grief, it is most successful at conveying the torment of an unhappy, isolated young man who "was taught to have faith" and then "grew out of it." With exquisite prose, Hartnett evokes a real sense of an individual on the edge and genuinely portrays the pain of what seems an incomprehensible action.

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.71(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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