The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

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The writing here is overly expository, however, and feels like an afterthought. Avery’s book brims with rich period detail, but her earnest, straight-arrow approach sometimes clashes with the louche mystique of the milieu she strives to capture.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

“As erotic and powerful as the paintings that inspired it.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

Paris, 1927. In the heady years before the crash, financiers drape their mistresses in Chanel, while expatriates flock to the avant-garde bookshop Shakespeare and Company. One day in July, a young American named Rafaela Fano gets into the car of a coolly dazzling stranger, the Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka.

Struggling to halt a downward slide toward prostitution, Rafaela agrees to model for the artist, a dispossessed Saint Petersburg aristocrat with a murky past. The two become lovers, and Rafaela inspires Tamara's most iconic Jazz Age images, among them her most accomplished-and coveted-works of art. A season as the painter's muse teaches Rafaela some hard lessons: Tamara is a cocktail of raw hunger and glittering artifice. And all the while, their romantic idyll is threatened by history's darkening tide.

Inspired by real events in de Lempicka's history, The Last Nude is a tour de force of historical imagination. Ellis Avery gives the reader a tantalizing window into a lost Paris, an age already vanishing as the inexorable forces of history close in on two tangled lives. Spellbinding and provocative, this is a novel about genius and craft, love and desire, regret and, most of all, hope that can transcend time and circumstance.

 

About Ellis Avery

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ELLIS AVERY is the author of The Teahouse Fire. The winner of three awards, The Teahouse Fire was translated into five languages. Avery teaches fiction writing at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
 
Published January 5, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 353 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Last Nude
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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Mar 19 2012

The writing here is overly expository, however, and feels like an afterthought. Avery’s book brims with rich period detail, but her earnest, straight-arrow approach sometimes clashes with the louche mystique of the milieu she strives to capture.

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