Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman

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Synopsis

Harriet Scott Chessman takes us into the world of Mary Cassatt's early Impressionist paintings through Mary's sister Lydia, whom the author sees as Cassatt's most inspiring muse. Chessman hauntingly brings to life Paris in 1880, with its thriving art world. The novel's subtle power rises out of a sustained inquiry into art's relation to the ragged world of desire and mortality. Ill with Bright's disease and conscious of her approaching death, Lydia contemplates her world narrowing. With the rising emotional tension between the loving sisters, between one who sees and one who is seen, Lydia asks moving questions about love and art's capacity to remember. Chessman illuminates Cassatt's brilliant paintings and creates a compelling portrait of the brave and memorable model who inhabits them with such grace. Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper includes five full-color plates, some of the most beautiful paintings Mary Cassatt made of her sister.
 

About Harriet Scott Chessman

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Harriet Scott Chessman is the author of the acclaimed novels Ohio Angels and Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper as well as The Public Is Invited to Dance, a book about Gertrude Stein. Formerly an associate professor of English and women’s studies at Yale University, she has also taught literature and writing at Bread Loaf School of English and Wesleyan University, and has published several essays on modern literature.
 
Published January 4, 2011 by Seven Stories Press. 164 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper

Kirkus Reviews

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But Lydia is also mindful of her decline in ways that none of her family, already scarred by several untimely deaths, can acknowledge—not even May, who nurses her sister through one bedridden bout of fever after another and whose paintings of her Lydia scans intensely after they’ve been finished,...

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Publishers Weekly

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Inspired by five Mary Cassatt paintings of Cassatt's older sister, Lydia, Chessman (Ohio Angels) paints her own intimate portrait of the admirable Lydia, chronicling Lydia's thoughts and feelings as she models for Mary in Paris in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

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Book Reporter

"...this sensation of being protected from the Cyclops by the Cyclops itself, while he eats everyone else in sight --- well, it's fragile at best," Lydia says.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Lydia Cassatt Reading the Mor...

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