Demeter's Choice by Mary Tonetti Dorra
A Portrait of My Grandmother as a Young Artist

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Travel back to the Gilded Age of American history, when all that glittered was not gold. Follow young sculptor, Mary Lawrence on her journey toward truth, as she scratches the surface of the glitzy Beaux Arts community and finds that what lies beneath can be dull and hard. It’s 1892, and Mary is on the verge of an artistic breakthrough, both for herself and for women artists everywhere: the Chicago World’s Fair committee is considering the recommendation to commission her to sculpt the figure of Christopher Columbus, for exhibition in the fair’s “Court of Honor.” No other woman is allowed to show art outside the “Woman’s Building,” let alone be featured in a prominent location. But the recommendation came from renowned sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who is Mary’s friend and mentor. And this is influence enough for the committee to agree—though the decision is not unanimous. This dissent is not the only taste of the derision Mary is to face throughout her artistic pursuits. For fifteen years, Mary has followed her passion for sculpting. She studies at the Art Students League in New York where she eventually teaches, as well as the Académie Julian in Paris. Unlike most young women, she has both the financial and emotional support of her parents, who serve as a consistent source of encouragement throughout her journey. She experiences the pangs and jealousies of professional rejection, as well as the joys of the American Beaux Arts’ bohemian community. Her sister’s marriage to a conventional businessman brings out Mary’s doubts about her own life choices, but the World’s Fair commission arrives just in time with the validation she needs. And her Christopher Columbus garners high praise from critics, which provides her with many opportunities previously unheard of for women. But it isn’t enough to keep her self-doubt buried. So when Mary finds herself the object of affection of two men, she must make the choice to continue on her artistic path, or a build a comfortable, traditional future.

About Mary Tonetti Dorra

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Published December 21, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 288 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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An aspiring female sculptor pursues art lessons at home and abroad, carves a place in history and finds love along the way in this well-written historical novel.

Jan 24 2014 | Read Full Review of Demeter's Choice: A Portrait ...

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