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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Matisse Stories - A. S. Byatt

The three stories in this book are based on Matisse paintings – the names and some sketches appear in the books.    All three stories are rich in imagery, clearly because of the source.

My favorite is the middle story – Art Work – which is the tale of Debbie and Robin.    Debbie has given up the artistic dreams of her childhood to become the breadwinner of the family, so that Robin can pursue his art full time.     She has a challenging job as a magazine editor, and the only thing holding their home together is the help of Mrs. Brown.     Robin detests Mrs. Brown, thinking she’s completely unappreciative of art (because she doesn’t like his), and Debbie lives in fear of the day that his animosity will force her to fire Mrs. Brown.

In the meantime, it turns out Mrs. Brown is the real artist of the bunch, changing the cast offs of Robin and Debbie’s home into a successful gallery show.    What makes this story is the language – it’s amazingly descriptive, and makes this story so much more than what it appears from this brief summary.

All three stories are like this – interesting studies in different situations, threaded together as an homage to an amazing artist.

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