The Curiosities: A Novel

The Curiosities: A Novel

by Susan Gloss


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The follow-up to Susan Gloss’s successful debut, Vintage, is a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.

Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in Madison, WI. But her last pregnancy ended later in the second trimester, and rather than pausing to grieve, she pushes harder for testing and fertility treatments. Urging Nell to apply for jobs, Josh believes his wife needs something else to focus on other than a baby that may never be.

Finding a job turns out to be difficult for an art historian . . . until Nell sees the ad seeking a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists' Colony. The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion. The executor of Betsy's estate simply hands Nell a set of house keys and wishes her luck.

Nell dives into the new role and discovers that while finding artists to fill the three residency slots is easy, managing their eccentric personalities is not. There’s Odin, a young metal sculptor, who keeps the other residents awake with his late-night welding projects. And Annie, a dreadlocked granny known for her gritty photography, whom Nell is almost certain is dealing pot out of the basement "studio." Lastly, Lois, an art student from the university, takes up residence in the third-floor turret, experimenting with new printing and design techniques, as well as leading a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night.

Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. And when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy—the creative, inspired world she's created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062270368
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 267,995
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she's not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.

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The Curiosities: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I liked the layout of the characters and the messages behind their different stories. A very nice read!
LeslieLindsay More than 1 year ago
A tender exploration of love and loss, addiction and recovery, pain and healing, THE CURIOSITIES is about the fragile condition of the human soul and art. Madison, Wisconsin is a mecca of artistic pursuits--with a ton of authors in residence, but in all honesty, I am not sure I've read a book *set* in Madison--but THE CURIOSITIES (Feb 5 2019)--takes place right in the heart of the city. I loved this! Plus, I absolutely love reading about art--it's like two art forms in one, a double treat. Nell Parker has a PhD in art history. She lives in a cozy Craftsman bungalow with her attorney/professor husband, but she is devastated by a recent miscarriage. She's grieving and having difficulty moving forward. Plus, she's swimming in a mound of (secret) debt. As luck would have it, Nell finds herself accepting a position as the director of a nonprofit artist's colony, established by the late Betsy Barrett, a patron of the modern arts. Nell isn't sure she's exactly cut out for the job, but she's willing to give it a shot. The Colony is located at Betsy Barrett's lakeside mansion and Nell quickly finds herself having it wired for wifi and sorting through applications, accepting artists from Minneapolis and NYC and Madison to the fold. There's Odin, whose medium is metal and sculpture, Paige who is a local mulitmedia artist in her final year of school, and Annie, who has a name in photography and political activism. There are so many lovely artistic references throughout THE CURIOSITIES and I found myself wanting to dive right into the art world Gloss paints in her words. I found the storytelling engaging and confident but with a lightness (though many of the themes and topics are not). Each member of the colony is struggling in some way--they have some dark scars--and it's through art, and each other, that healing takes place. Gloss weaves a colorful tapestry of flawed humans doing the best they can with what they have, their skills, talents, and more in this exploration of addiction and recovery, pain and loss, love, and friendship. There's such a good feeling at the end that everything--and everyone--will be okay. THE CURIOSITIES reminded me of the work of Ella Joy Olsen--especially ROOT, PETAL, THORN and also Ariellla Cohen's SWEET BREATH OF MEMORY. L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Nell has struggled for years to get pregnant. This has left her drained and in deep debt, which she has kept hidden from her husband. When her last chance to become pregnant fails, Nell decides it is time to focus on something else. She takes a job as Director of Mansion Hill Artist’s Colony. This turns out to be a little more challenging than she expected. I love the eccentric characters in this read. Paige is working on different painting techniques. She is also a little promiscuous, introverted and attached to her phone. Odin is a metal sculptor. He is very kind but he has an attraction to Nell. Then there is Annie. She is documenting the opioid crisis by photographing addicts. She is offering the addicts a little something on the side. All these artists together under one roof creates a unique environment for all involved. I also enjoyed learning about the works of art scattered throughout the mansion. Betsy, the founder of the colony, amassed a large amount of eclectic art work. The author did a fabulous job weaving the history of these works into this story. This uncommon mix of characters and this mansion as a backdrop really creates a delicious story. Get your copy today! I received this novel from Tall Poppy Authors for a honest review.
KerryACroucier More than 1 year ago
The Curiosities is a beautifully written tale told from five different perspectives, woven together to create a stunning piece of art. Gloss brings together characters that wouldn’t usually come together, but end up fitting together like the pieces of a puzzle. Elizabeth “Betsy” Barrett had lived her life on her terms, and, with no family, by choice, she wanted to leave a legacy. A woman who loved art, she created an Artists’ Colony, a residency program where artists can live and concentrate on creating without worrying about the mundane aspects of life. Before she died, Betsy hand-picked the first three artists in the residency, and each comes with their own baggage. Nell has her own problems and emotional baggage. Needing a change of direction, she finds herself hired as director of the residency program and navigating the program with no set rules or directions. Nell may be a replacement director, but, I think, if Betsy had met her, she would have picked her as well. Nell needs the job and the artists as much as they need the program and each other. With a wonderful cast of characters, Gloss explores different aspects of grief, and brings together this curious group of people to create a family that helps each other find a way to start healing and move on to the next step in their lives. This novel elicited a wide array of emotions for me, but, by the end, I felt peace and hope for each of the characters. My first foray into Susan Gloss’s writing leaves me wanting to read her last novel, Vintage, and I look forward to her next project with great anticipation. #BloomReads #TallPoppyWriter
TheBookBag More than 1 year ago
The Curiosities is very well written and I was immediately at ease with the characters and the story. Nell finds herself thrown into the dream of another woman, becoming the director of an artist's colony. It's a way for her to move on with her life. As Nell's life becomes intertwined with the three artists, who are the first residents of the colony, she also discovers a lot about herself. All three of the artists bring a unique aspect to the overall story-line, each with their own quirky personalities and their own story. It was interesting to learn how they got to this place in their lives. And where they were going to go from here. The Curiosities is a story that will stay with me as the characters, and their experiences, were very memorable. This was an amazing introduction to a new-to-me author and I'm excited to read more of Susan's stories.