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, Dancing for Degas, The Lacuna, Lust for Life, and The Last Painting of Sara DeVos. 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, 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.

Zoom link for 11/17 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86179432098

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.

Zoom link for 12/15 meeting at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81412604881

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at 7 pm
The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

When Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now-famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?

Zoom link for 1/19/22 meeting at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89127270135

Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 7 pm
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

In I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.

Zoom link for 2/16/22 meeting at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89794581519

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 7 pm
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Wickedly funny, this totally engaging, richly observed first novel by Hannah Rothschild is a tour de force. Its sweeping narrative and cast of wildly colorful characters takes you behind the scenes of a London auction house, into the secret operations of a powerful art dealer, to a flamboyant eighteenth-century-style dinner party, and into a modest living room in Berlin, among many other unexpected settings.

In The Improbability of Love we meet Annie McDee, thirty-one, who is working as a chef for two rather sinister art dealers. Recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, she is searching in a neglected secondhand shop for a birthday present for her unsuitable new lover. Hidden behind a rubber plant on top of a file cabinet, a grimy painting catches her eye. After spending her meager savings on the picture, Annie prepares an elaborate birthday dinner for two, only to be stood up. The painting becomes hers, and as it turns out, Annie has stumbled across a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French painters of the eighteenth century. But who painted this masterpiece is not clear at first. Soon Annie finds herself pursued by interested parties who would do anything to possess her picture. For a gloomy, exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious sheikha, a desperate auctioneer, and an unscrupulous dealer, among others, the painting embodies their greatest hopes and fears. In her search for the painting’s identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history—as well as the possibility of falling in love again.

Irreverent, witty, bittersweet, The Improbability of Love draws an unforgettable portrait of the London art scene, but it is also an exuberant and unexpected journey through life’s highs and lows and the complexities of love and loss. “This brilliant satire on the highest echelons of the art market is a bold move by the National Gallery’s chair of trustees [Hannah Rothschild].”

Zoom link for 11/17 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88075111820

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 7 pm
The Secret Book of Friday Kahlo by F. G. Haghenbeck

One of Mexico’s most celebrated new novelists, F. G. Haghenbeck offers a beautifully written reimagining of Frida Kahlo’s fascinating life and loves.

When several notebooks were recently discovered among Frida Kahlo’s belongings at her home in Coyoacán, Mexico City, acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this beautifully wrought fictional account of her life. Haghenbeck imagines that, after Frida nearly died when a streetcar’s iron handrail pierced her abdomen during a traffic accident, she received one of the notebooks as a gift from her lover Tina Modotti. Frida called the notebook “The Hierba Santa Book” (The Sacred Herbs Book) and filled it with memories, ideas, and recipes.

Haghenbeck takes readers on a magical ride through Frida’s passionate life: her long and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera, the development of her art, her complex personality, her hunger for experience, and her ardent feminism. This stunning narrative also details her remarkable relationships with Georgia O’Keeffe, Leon Trotsky, Nelson Rockefeller, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Henry Miller, and Salvador Dalí. Combining rich, luscious prose with recipes from “The Hierba Santa Book,” Haghenbeck tells the extraordinary story of a woman whose life was as stunning a creation as her art.

Zoom link for 4/20 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85072034158

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at 7 pm
The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich

“In prose as painterly and evocative as Chagall’s own dazzling brushstrokes, Gloria Goldreich finely evokes one of the most significant masters of modern art through the discerning eyes of [his] loyally protective daughter.”—Cynthia Ozick, award-winning author of Foreign Bodies

An exquisite, haunting exploration of the complex mind of Marc Chagall, and the artist’s famous chair, through the eyes of his daughter during World War II—perfect for fans of Mrs. Poe and The Paris Wife

Beautiful Ida Chagall, the only daughter of Marc Chagall, is blossoming in the Paris art world beyond her father’s controlling gaze. But, her newfound independence is cut short by the chaos of World War II. In Nazi-occupied Paris, her father’s status as a Jewish artist has made them all targets, but his devotion to his art blinds him to their danger.

When Ida falls in love and Chagall angrily paints an empty wedding chair in response, she faces an impossible choice: Does she fight to escape her father’s shadow entirely, or abandon her ambitions to save Chagall from the peril in Paris, his enemies, and himself?

Brimming with historic personalities from WWII Europe, America and Israel, The Bridal Chair is a stunning portrait of love, fortitude, and the sharp divide between art and real life.

Zoom link for 5/18 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83731273503

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 7 pm
The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer

From award-winning crime writer and celebrated artist Jonathan Santlofer comes an enthralling tale about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, the forgeries that appeared in its wake, and the present-day underbelly of the art world.

August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now returned to the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911.

Present day: Art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger.

The Last Mona Lisa is a suspenseful and seductive tale, perfect for fans of the Netflix documentaries This Is A Robbery and Made You Look and readers obsessed with the world of art heists and forgeries.

Zoom link for 6/15 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86508023511

Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at 7 pm
Cooking for Picasso by C.A. Belmond/Camille Aubrey

For readers of Paula McLain, Nancy Horan, and Melanie Benjamin, this captivating novel is inspired by a little-known interlude in the artist’s life. “A tasty blend of romance, mystery, and French cooking.”—Margaret Atwood, via Twitter

The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request—to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.

Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life—and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.

New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.

Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera’s most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.

Zoom link for 7/20 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89093007306

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at 7 pm
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . . . even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.

Zoom link for 8/17 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85178039253

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at 7 pm
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

In a new novel called “searingly fresh… A Nabokovian cat’s cradle” on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, the internationally bestselling author tells the provocative story of artist Harriet Burden, who, after years of having her work ignored, ignites an explosive scandal in New York’s art world when she recruits three young men to present her creations as their own. Yet when the shows succeed and Burden steps forward for her triumphant reveal, she is betrayed by the third man, Rune. Many critics side with him, and Burden and Rune find themselves in a charged and dangerous game, one that ends in his bizarre death.

An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle presented as a collection of texts, including Harriet’s journals, assembled after her death, this “glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship” (San Francisco Chronicle) unfolds from multiple perspectives as Harriet’s critics, fans, family, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of where the truth lies.

Zoom link for 9/21 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86491967280

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at 7 pm
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr

In a new novel called “searingly fresh… A Nabokovian cat’s cradle” on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, the internationally bestselling author tells the provocative story of artist Harriet Burden, who, after years of having her work ignored, ignites an explosive scandal in New York’s art world when she recruits three young men to present her creations as their own. Yet when the shows succeed and Burden steps forward for her triumphant reveal, she is betrayed by the third man, Rune. Many critics side with him, and Burden and Rune find themselves in a charged and dangerous game, one that ends in his bizarre death.

An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle presented as a collection of texts, including Harriet’s journals, assembled after her death, this “glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship” (San Francisco Chronicle) unfolds from multiple perspectives as Harriet’s critics, fans, family, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of where the truth lies.

Zoom link for 10/12 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82947592373

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 7 pm
The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

A young New Yorker grieving his mother’s death is pulled into a gritty underworld of art and wealth in this “extraordinary” and beloved Pulitzer Prize winner that “connects with the heart as well as the mind” (Stephen King, New York Times Book Review).
Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by a longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into a wealthy and insular art community.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love — and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention. From the streets of New York to the dark corners of the art underworld, this “soaring masterpiece” examines the devastating impact of grief and the ruthless machinations of fate (Ron Charles, Washington Post).

Zoom link for 11/16 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87095881055

Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 7 pm
The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II.

Milan, 1492: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace—and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.

Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back.

Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies.

Zoom link for 12/14 book club at 7 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82547157139