I am always drawn to stories that have anything to do with art. I studied art history and college and it’s a passion of mine so when a synopsis includes one of my favorite topics I’m excited to read. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of The Curiosities by Susan Gloss at no charge for my honest review.
About The Curiosities:
Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 5, 2019)
The follow-up to Susan Gloss’s successful debut, Vintage, is a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.
Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in Madison, WI. But her last pregnancy ended later in the second trimester, and rather than pausing to grieve, she pushes harder for testing and fertility treatments. Urging Nell to apply for jobs, Josh believes his wife needs something else to focus on other than a baby that may never be.
Finding a job turns out to be difficult for an art historian . . . until Nell sees the ad seeking a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony. The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion. The executor of Betsy’s estate simply hands Nell a set of house keys and wishes her luck, leaving her to manage the mansion and the eccentric personalities of the artists who live there on her own.
Soon one of the artists, a young metal sculptor named Odin, is keeping the other residents awake with his late-night welding projects. Nell is pretty sure that Annie, a dreadlocked granny known for her avant garde performance pieces, is dealing drugs out of the basement “studio.” Meanwhile Paige, an art student from the university, takes up residence in the third-floor turret, experimenting with new printing and design techniques, as well as leading a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night.
Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. And when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy—the creative, inspired world she’s created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.
About the Author:
Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at GlossingOverIt.com, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.
Before I start the book review I just want to note how much I love the cover – it’s really eye catching. Nell and Josh are living in Wisconsin and longing for a child; Nell far more so than Josh. She has been undergoing IVF treatments after a miscarriage and she is devastated when the last implant does not take. Josh says that’s it – he’s done and feels Nell needs to find a place to direct her energies. She looks for and actually finds a job in short order.
There is more between these two but all marriages are complicated. Nell is given the reigns of an artist’s colony through a trust of a wealthy woman who loved art. She dives into her new job with little experience and less supervision. As she makes the place into what she believes the former owner would want it to be she learns about that woman, about herself and how far love can stretch before it breaks.
This was a quiet read in many ways. It had a quirky cast in that it involved artists and creative types and they are often a little different from the rest of the world. At the heart of the book though is the relationship between Nell and Josh. These are two people who are deeply in love but one – Nell – wants a baby so badly and feels deeply inadequate for not being able to do this one seemingly simple thing. Josh is fine one way or the other and suffers for the hurt the struggle is causing Nell. He hopes that her new job will redirect her energies but he doesn’t know how bad things really are with Nell.
She does throw herself into the work but soon the distraction Josh was hoping for comes in the form of one of the artists in residence. Not exactly what either Nell or Josh was expecting. So will these two be able to work through these dark times in their lives and their marriage?
I was drawn to the book through the mention of art and art history and yet found very little of both. That does not mean I didn’t find a book well worth reading. It was just more of romantic drama than I was initially expecting. It was full of interesting characters with compelling stories. All of them, living and dead had much to say about life and yes art. The book ended in a way I never would have expected and yet in a way it really could not have ended any other way.