The Center for the Arts Evergreen Book Chat meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 7-9 pm via ZOOM. CAE’s Book Chat 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, Dancing for Degas, The Lacuna, Lust for Life, and The Last Painting of Sara DeVos. We encourage you to support local, independently-owned bookstores if you are purchasing selections for CAE’s book chat. We’d love for you to join us. Please consider becoming a CAE member and we’ll add you to our Book Chat list. See below for upcoming dates and titles. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2024 – 6 pm | IN-PERSON AT CAE!
The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89723846365?pwd=a2NuMmI5T2RrN0cvNnNVdGVtTDBNdz09

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities. Fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain manufacture, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

Wednesday, August 21, 2024 – 7 pm
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86267620449?pwd=ak5ldVZJaU13WjNyUmxiQVJIVnU5Zz09

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now. Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imag­ine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted at­tempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2024 – 7 pm
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86160978636?pwd=d25mbkxLbnRDd1RLaVVCRFh4anZrQT09

An instant bestseller when it was first published, The Shell Seekers is an enduring classic which has touched the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. A novel of connection, it is the story of one family―mothers and daughters, husbands and lovers―and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. This magical novel―the kind of reading experience that comes along only once in a long while―is the perfect read, whether you are returning to it again, or opening the cover for the first time.

At the end of a long and useful life, Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather’s work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer…and it lies in her heart.

Wednesday, October 23, 2024 – 7 pm
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82064997496?pwd=RDVtcEt6amd3bHpzeEhQd0pyTXg3UT09

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Wednesday, November 20, 2024 – 7 pm
The Secret Life of Sunflowers by Marte Molnar

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88569156532?pwd=SDhOZ25QOU9hYjVHaUFURE53UGpIZz09

When Hollywood auctioneer Emsley Wilson finds her famous grandmother’s diary while cleaning out her New York brownstone, the pages are full of surprises. The first surprise is, the diary isn’t her grandmother’s. It belongs to Johanna Bonger, Vincent van Gogh’s sister-in-law.

Johanna inherited Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. They were all she had, and they weren’t worth anything. She was a 28 year old widow with a baby in the 1800s, without any means of supporting herself, living in Paris where she barely spoke the language. Yet she managed to introduce Vincent’s legacy to the world.

The inspiration couldn’t come at a better time for Emsley. With her business failing, an unexpected love turning up in her life, and family secrets unraveling, can she find answers in the past?

Wednesday, December 18, 2024 – 7 pm
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87082526873?pwd=SjN2eFhDRm5PY3puVjQyS2lLS0JEZz09

Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.