The Center for the Arts Evergreen Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 7-9 pm via ZOOM. CAE’s Book Club is free to all CAE members. We choose fictional books based in the world of arts and culture and have lively discussions about the world of art. Some past titles have been The Art Forger, Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet, Clara & Mr. Tiffany, Oil & Marble, and Dancing for Degas. We are grateful that our local independently owned bookstore, Hearthfire Books & Treats, offers a 10% discount to our members on the selections for CAE’s book club. We’d love for you to join us. Please consider becoming a CAE member and we’ll add you to our Book Club list. See below for upcoming dates and titles. Happy Reading!
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 7 pm
The Last Painting of Sara DeVos by Dominic Smith
Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.
New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.
Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.
Zoom link for the meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89591651807
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 7 pm
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 7 pm
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets The Italian Job in internationally-bestselling author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s witty and insightful comedy of errors about a group of delinquent seniors whose desire for a better quality of life leads them to rob and ransom priceless artwork.
Martha Andersson may be seventy-nine-years-old and live in a retirement home, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to stop enjoying life. So when the new management of Diamond House starts cutting corners to save money, Martha and her four closest friends—Brains, The Rake, Christina and Anna-Gretta (a.k.a. The League of Pensioners)—won’t stand for it. Fed up with early bedtimes and overcooked veggies, this group of feisty seniors sets about to regain their independence, improve their lot, and stand up for seniors everywhere.
Their solution? White collar crime. What begins as a relatively straightforward robbery of a nearby luxury hotel quickly escalates into an unsolvable heist at the National Museum. With police baffled and the Mafia hot on their trail, the League of Pensioners has to stay one walker’s length ahead if it’s going to succeed….
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 7 pm
Lust for Life by Irving Stone
Since its initial publication in 1934, Irving Stone’s Lust for Life has been a critical success, a multimillion-copy bestseller, and the basis for an Academy Award-winning movie.
The most famous of all of Stone’s novels, it is the story of Vincent Van Gogh—brilliant painter, passionate lover, and alleged madman. Here is his tempestuous story: his dramatic life, his fevered loves for both the highest-born women and the lowest prostitutes, and his paintings—for which he was damned before being proclaimed a genius. The novel takes us from his desperate days in a coal mine in southern Belgium to his dazzling years in the south of France, where he knew the most brilliant artists (and the most depraved whores). Finally, it shows us Van Gogh driven mad, tragic, and triumphant at once. No other novel of a great man’s life has so fascinated the American public for generations.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 7 pm
Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland
From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany, comes a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war.
In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.
Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Pissarro and Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life, allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provençal landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal’s advice to “Do the important things first,” Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#4. Learn what makes a painting great). When war breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.
With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the paintings (#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime). Her search takes her through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live robustly, and to love again.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 7 pm
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
A fifteenth-century painting by a Flemish master is about to be auctioned when Julia, a young art restorer, discovers a peculiar inscription hidden in a corner: Who killed the knight? In the painting, the Duke of Flanders and his knight are locked in a game of chess, and a dark lady lurks mysteriously in the background. Julia is determined to solve the five-hundred-year-old murder, but as she begins to look for clues, several of her friends in the art world are brutally murdered in quick succession. Messages left with the bodies suggest a crucial connection between the chess game in the painting, the knight’s murder, the sordid underside of the contemporary art world, and the latest deaths. Just when all of the players in the mystery seem to be pawns themselves, events race toward a shocking conclusion. A thriller like no other, The Flanders Panel presents a tantalizing puzzle for any connoisseur of mystery, chess, art, and history.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 at 7 pm
Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In a dazzling work of historical fiction in the vein of Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, Dawn Tripp brings to life Georgia O’Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist.
This is not a love story. If it were, we would have the same story. But he has his, and I have mine.
In 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O’Keeffe’s work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their connection is instantaneous. O’Keeffe is quickly drawn into Stieglitz’s sophisticated world, becoming his mistress, protégé, and muse, as their attraction deepens into an intense and tempestuous relationship and his photographs of her, both clothed and nude, create a sensation.
Yet as her own creative force develops, Georgia begins to push back against what critics and others are saying about her and her art. And soon she must make difficult choices to live a life she believes in.
A breathtaking work of the imagination, Georgia is the story of a passionate young woman, her search for love and artistic freedom, the sacrifices she will face, and the bold vision that will make her a legend.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at 7 pm
Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current.
So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.
In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.
Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.
Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 7 pm
In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark
Based on a true story, this gorgeous novel follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in an art scandal—involving newly discovered van Goghs—that rocks Germany amid the Nazis’ rise to power.
In the turbulent years between the wars, nothing in Berlin is quite what it seems.
Not for Emmeline, a wayward young artist freewheeling wildly through the city in search of meaning. Not for Julius, an eminent art connoisseur who finds it easier to love paintings than people. And most definitely not for Frank, a Jewish lawyer who must find a way to protect his family and his principles as the Nazis begin their rise to power.
But the greatest enigma of them all is Matthias, the mercurial art dealer who connects them all. Charming and ambitious, he will provoke a scandal—involving newly discovered paintings by Vincent van Gogh—that turns all of their lives upside down.
Inspired by true events, this brilliant, humane novel peels back the cherished illusions that sustain us to reveal the truths beneath. A book about beauty and justice, vanity and self-delusion, it asks: Do we see only what we want to see? Even in the full light of the sun?
Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 7 pm
Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb
A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France
As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness.
Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 7 pm
The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber
Chaz Wilmot is a painter born outside his time. He possesses a virtuosic command of the techniques of the old masters. He can paint like Leonardo, Goya, Gainsborough–artists whose works sell for millions–but this style of painting is no longer popular, and he refuses to shape his talent to fit the fashion of the day. So Wilmot makes his living cranking out parodies for ads and magazine covers. A break comes when an art dealer obtains for him a commission to restore a Venetian palace fresco by the eighteenth-century master Tiepolo, for a disreputable Italian businessman. Once there, Wilmot discovers that it is not a restoration but a re-creation, indeed a forgery. At first skeptical of the job, he then throws himself into the creative challenge and does the job brilliantly. No one can tell the modern work from something done more than two hundred years ago. This feat attracts the attention of Werner Krebs, an art dealer with a dark past and shadier present who becomes Wilmot’s friend and patron. Wilmot is suddenly working with a fervor he hasn’t felt in years, but his burst of creative activity is accompanied by strange interludes: Without warning, he finds himself reliving moments from his past–not as memories but as if they are happening all over again. Soon, it is no longer his own past he’s revisiting; he believes he can travel back to the seventeenth century, where he lived as the Spanish artist Diego Rodrguez de Silva Velzquez, one of the most famous painters in history. Wilmot begins to fantasize that as Velzquez, he has created a masterpiece, a stunning portrait of a nude. When the painting actually turns up, he doesn’t know if he painted it or if he imagined the whole thing. Little by little, Wilmot enters a mirror house of illusions and hallucinations that propels him into a secret world of gangsters, greed, and murder, with his mystery patron at the center of it all, either as the mastermind behind a plot to forge a painting worth hundreds of millions, or as the man who will save Wilmot from obscurity and madness. In Chaz Wilmot, we meet the rarest breed of literary hero, one for whom the reader feels almost personally responsible. By turns brutally honest and self-deceptive, scornful of the world while yearning to make his mark on it, Wilmot comes astonishingly alive for the reader, and his perilous journey toward the truth becomes our own. The Forgery of Venus, a blend of erudition, unflagging narrative brio, and emotional depth, brings us inexorably toward the intersection where genius and insanity collide. Miraculously inventive, this book cements Gruber’s reputation as one of the most imaginative and gifted writers of our time.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 7 pm
The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
In her acclaimed novels, Susan Vreeland has given us portraits of painting and life that are as dazzling as their artistic subjects. Now, in The Forest Lover, she traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who—more than Georgia O’Keeffe or Frida Kahlo—blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force in modern art by capturing an untamed British Columbia and its indigenous peoples just before industrialization changed them forever. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to artists’ studios in pre-World War I Paris, Vreeland tells her story with gusto and suspense, giving us a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.