A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World

by Christina Baker Kline

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"A must-read for anyone who loves history and art.”

--Kristin Hannah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

"Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062356284
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/21/2017
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 4,741
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Christina Baker Kline is the author of six novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train as well as A Piece of the World. She lives outside New York City and spends as much time as possible on the coast of Maine. Learn more about Christina at www.christinabakerkline.com.

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A Piece of the World: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An engaging character study that drew me in with its hardy New England challenges and for me, raised questionning about the balance between mere survival and the life well~lived.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
“The older I get, the more I believe that the greatest kindness is acceptance” This is a fictionalized account of Christina Olsen of Cushing Maine, the inspiration for Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting Christina’s World. Baker Kline did a massive amount of research on Olsen, a spinster living in rural Maine, who chose, or possibly was chosen to, to care for her family. Disabled early on by a severe illness,now believed to be Charcot- Marie- Tooth syndrome, an inherited nerve disorder, Christina literally becomes the “chief cook and bottle washer” on her family homestead. She wants more, but is early on taught that she isn’t able to be anything more that that. She isn’t allowed to go to secondary school. The man she loves is insincere as she is not acceptable as his wife. Despite her growing pain she runs a house, caring for both parents and her dying grandmother. Her younger brothers run off to see the world. Her older brother, much more fit than she, gives up his own dreams to be the dutiful son, burying both his parents and running the farm they fought so hard to keep. Later, the son of N C Wyeth, Andrew, himself disabled, begins to use the farmhouse as a seasonal studio, refining his starkly realistic style there. He and Christina forge a friendship as she learns how people see the whole person. Wyeth’s Christina’s World is seen as a masterpiece of 20th century realism, and the foremost MOMA scholar has written it is more a psychological profile than an actual portrait. This reviewer thinks of it as one of her favorite pictures which she first saw woven into a daily soap opera story as a tween and had a copy in her office most of her career. I am amazed at the work this author has done, having researched historical characters for my own work. I found I wanted to kick most of the men portrayed in the story for their self-centeredness. But then, I had to look at this story through eyes of Christina Olsen’s times; where the men worked outside the home and the women cared for them. This is a fantastic book, one of my top choices for 2018. I want to share it with everyone but keep it for myself. Highly recommended 5+/5 [disclaimer: I won this book from a#GoodReads giveaway and have chosen to review it]
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings What a piece of work! From beginning to end, I loved how this story unfolded. Christina Olson tells her story of growing up in a small town in Maine and how her and her family did not quite move with the times and how apparent that is when an artist comes to stay for a few summers and Christina can then see her life and her home through his eyes. This book starts each section with a title and starts in the "present" time where Andrew Wyeth the artist is living in their home and spending summers making art. In the middle of this book while reading, I looked Andrew Wyeth and his artwork and read his Wikipedia page, it was interesting to see the truth behind this fictional story.
MaryHelenSheriff More than 1 year ago
A Piece of the World is the fictional story behind Christina the figure in Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting Christina’s World. Christina Baker Kline did a great deal of research on Wyeth and his muse Christina. Here is a heartfelt tale of a woman crippled at a young age, her resiliency, and how Wyeth is able to capture her essence within his artwork. This book is a window into a different life and one that allows the reader to see the world through a different lens. If you love books and art, then you’ve found the perfect meld of the two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great descriptions of Christina's life, hard to imagine living in those times without much hope for a cure, and yet she persevered.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I waited till I finished reading this novel to view the portrait, Christina’s World, which surrounded this novel. I had my own version of what this painting entailed as I read the novel but as I viewed the actual image, the landscape felt more void and lonely than I had anticipated. Christina’s image was ideal as she laid out on the harsh grass and the homestead’s deteriorating condition completed the print. I felt for Christina throughout the novel as she stumbled to keep up. She kept her struggles inside as her determined and steadfast attitude pushed her through each day. Christina felt unattractive and when you added on her leg condition that brought on her clumsiness and her constant stumbling, Christina had a negative view of herself. She was smart, her teacher had told her so, but living on the homestead she didn’t feel it. Her legs cause her constant pain yet when her parents try to get her medical help, she refused it. It’s rough out on the homestead without any modern conveniences yet Christina doesn’t complain, she does what is expected of her. When all her friends start dating, getting married and having children, Christina imagines such a time but somehow, she knows her life is on her family’s estate. I was sad to see Christina, day-in and day-out laboring away for her family and only taking time for herself if there was any, at the end of the day. Andy Wyeth comes to Christina’s homestead as he wants to use the surrounding area in his paintings. Andy becomes a constant figure in the household, using the upstairs bedroom for his studio. I enjoyed the relationship that Andy and Christina develop through the years. They discover how the two of them are alike and their conversations become personal and relaxed. Andy gets married and Christina finds a man who fills her heart. She wonders how Walton will fit into her world as their worlds are so different. Is this her opportunity to leave the estate and start her own life? I found myself absorbed into Christina’s life. I wanted so much for her. When her teacher extended an opportunity to her, I was hoping that this would be where she would succeed and she would be off. I would only hope. I loved Christina’s relationships in this novel. They weren’t tight but she had a nice variety where I learned a bit more about her from different individuals. I really enjoyed the author’s writing, there was this, “this is how it is” feeling about it and I brought my own emotions to the table as I read. I really enjoyed how the painting was used in this novel and I am glad I didn’t look at it until I finished reading the novel. I think my parents had a copy of this painting when I was growing up, hanging in the hallway. You can read the interpretation of this painting, invent your own, or read this novel and apply it to this painting, it’s up to you. Super novel to read. I won a copy of this novel from a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you, William Morrow, - Harper Collins Publishers for this novel!
PeppermintPhd More than 1 year ago
The Why? First and foremost, it's Christina Baker Kline...I LOVED Orphan Train...if I made a list of best novels I've ever read, Orphan Train would be on that list. I also love Twentieth Century Americana and American Literature. What an idea...to take this well-known Wyeth painting and the history surrounding it and fill in the blanks with story. First Impressions As I first began to read, I noticed the slower pace...I was a little disappointed but then realized that maybe the pace was on purpose. The slow, mundane, sobering, self-sufficient, persistent, rural life pace. I slowed myself down and really let the words and the imagery sink in. The Publisher's Summary "To Christina Olson, the entire world is her family farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. The only daughter in a family of sons, Christina is tied to her home by health and circumstance, and seems destined for a small life. Instead, she becomes Andrew Wyeth’s first great inspiration, and the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World." My Perspective Christina Olson's austere existence is defined by her past as well as the generations who came before her. Her existence is tightly interwoven with her her mother, the last child (a daughter no doubt) of the Hathorn clan, her father, who left his home in Sweden and became stranded from a fishing boat, only to meet the 34 yr. old "old maid" who would become his wife, her brothers, and her grandmother Mamey. An undiagnosed neurological illness (which some have said was polio) keeps Christina from experiencing life as everyone else her age does, and she watches time flow by as if she is standing still. "Andy" Wyeth visits one summer and chooses the Olson House as his painting perch. He and Christina form a bond like no other...only they can truly "see." A Piece of the World honors a simple life, made by those living it, despite every possible obstacle thrown in your way. The Google Factor (I'm a nerd) Andrew Wyeth's painting habits and modes, his vision Salem Witch Trials history - Bridget Bishop Cushing, Maine Harvard the U.S. Navy suffragettes literature mentions Emily Dickinson's poetry Christina Olson's illness - I cringed at the descriptions Kline wrote as Christina moved from place to place...the imagery was vivid. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction in which the author painstakingly keeps as much history as possible...I so appreciate what Kline did with A Piece of the World.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page turning, wonderful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are not very likeable and the story sad but it's written in a very thoughtful way and will be a story that stays with you.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Awesome! It's unbelievable howe some writers like Christina can grab you in the first pages and keep you there until the end. While others are not so good. This book was outstanding! A must read for everyone looking for a great novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Wyeth paintings. This book brought one to life.
Balsam18 More than 1 year ago
A really great read. Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LAMartinez More than 1 year ago
At our book club meeting last night, a question was posed about how we view ourselves through other people's eyes. I once wrote about labels and how obsessed our society is about confining us to our assumed roles and identities. We even put ourselves in debt trying to fit into these assumptions by driving the "best" cars, and making sure we were in a "better" neighborhood, and ensuring our children have the "best" education by enrolling them only in the "highly esteemed" private schools. Labels follow us where we are in life. Christina Olson had labels following her: a sick child, the dutiful daughter, the spinster. I'm sure there are other "colorful" labels that I can put on her but one thing about this woman, and her seemingly sad existence were her choices (or lack, thereof) that led up to a fateful meeting with artist Andrew Wyeth. In our life, we demand a few things, and one of them is to be known. It doesn't necessarily have to be to the world, but to be known to the people around us. In our everyday, we put up fences around ourselves, and pretend we're better than we believe, and cast on different roles to change the labels people already had assigned us. What if someone takes all of our pretentiousness, or looks past at our ordinary and sees us. Sees us the way we can only hope to be. And in Andrew, Christina becomes one thing - a story; a painting with layers of wisdom, hurts, regrets, suffering. Her life isn't a blank canvas as much as it's a history lesson. I've never read any of Christina Baker Kline's work but after this, I'm going to pick up a few more. This was moving, and in her descriptions, I was there at the farm, looking on at the sky, the dilapidated house, the sea, the woman with her back turned to me. in her words, I walk into the Olson home, see the lessons written in pictures, in old chests, in seashells, and forget about the labels I put on this woman in the famous painting, but take in all that is her. Through both Kline and Wyeth's eyes, Christina is not only seen and known, but we, the reader and art patrons are given a glimpse and a piece of (her) world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those wretched books, that make you feel horrid but you keep reading anyway. You wanted to stop, and you find that you should have because the book gives you nothing. The ending was no better than the beginning, middle, or the end. This book is simply a New England winter, wretchedly depressing and survivable by stamina alone. Yuck.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I’ve spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me. (There are many ways to be crippled, I’ve learned over the years, many forms of paralysis.) … You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before. It is a terrible thing to find the love of your life, Christina… You know too well what you’re missing when it’s gone. The day we bury her is dreary: a colorless sky, gray-boned trees, old sooty snow. Winter, I think, must be tired of itself. … I put my hand over his, and he lays his other hand over mine. I feel the way I do when I lose something – a spool of thread, say – and search for it everywhere, only to discover it in an obvious place, like on the sideboard under the cloth. My Review: This was my first exposure to Christina Baker Kline’s talents and I became an instant devotee. The writing was emotive and often tinged with melancholy, lushly descriptive, thoughtfully observant, cunningly crafted, and intricately detailed. A fascinating mix of fact and fiction, I have since spent far too much time Googling Christina Olson and Andrew Wyeth’s iconic artwork. I was immediately immersed in this beautifully and insightfully written book from the first person POV of Christina, a girl/woman with few options and limited mobility. Christina lived her entire life in the same house with her slightly odd family in small-town rural Maine and had continued to live under extremely harsh conditions without indoor plumbing, running water, or electricity, long after others in her area were enjoying these luxuries. Christina was possibly the most obstinate woman on her time. Unsteady on her weak limbs following an life-threatening and undiagnosed illness at the age of three, she despised pity, denied most offers of assistance despite frequent mishaps and injuries from falls, refused to seek medical assistance when offered, and in her later years when her legs were no longer of use to her she steadfastly refused to use a wheelchair and drug herself by her elbows, up and down stairs and even across fields to visit her neighbor. I ached for her and wanted to pop her in the back of the head at the same time for her stubborn pride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haunting and beautifully written ,this book will stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned .