Also of interest...in artists’ muses
Portraits of Courage
by George W. Bush (Crown, $35)
Former President Bush has “improved drastically” as a painter since his awkward first efforts became public in 2013, said Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker. Working from photographs of U.S. war veterans, Bush painted 98 portraits for this volume, and though the book is “maddeningly” self-comforting, the quality of the art is “astonishingly high” for someone so new to the discipline. Bush’s brushwork is confident, and his subjects “look honestly observed and persuasively alive.”
A Piece of the World
by Christina Baker Kline (William Morrow, $28)
The subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 1948 painting Christina’s World could seem a wholly tragic figure, said Jenny Sawyer in CSMonitor.com. But this new historical novel “paints her differently,” showing readers a Christina who’s undaunted in the face of a crippling muscular disease. In these pages, Wyeth is a sensitive young man who coaxes middle-aged Christina out of her shell. Like Wyeth, author Christina Baker Kline “has an artist’s eye,” and a gift for revealing inner beauty.
by Anna Pasternak (Ecco, $28)
“Sometimes when you read a novel, you just know that the love story at its heart has to be based on a real relationship,” said Martin Rubin in The Washington Times. In Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, the real relationship was the author’s affair with Olga Ivinskaya, a fellow writer who typed the manuscript, which was eventually smuggled out of the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s great-niece has finally convincingly established that Ivinskaya—who paid dearly for assisting Pasternak—was the original Lara.
Birds Art Life
by Kyo Maclear (Scribner, $25)
This “profound little book” is only partially about an author’s year of therapeutic bird-watching, said Laurie Hertzel in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Though the Toronto-based author sought solace in birding after her father suffered a debilitating stroke, her long walks also afforded time to meditate on her marriage, her favorite books, and the ways that past creative greats have embraced the natural world. A fair amount of ornithological language creeps in, but those allusions “feel natural, never forced.”