Keeping the World Away - Margaret Forster
With the wonderfully satisfying appeal of Forster's bestselling Diary of an Ordinary Woman and the historical delights of Lady's Maid, this engrossing novel follows the fictional adventures, over a hundred years, of an early twentieth-century painting and the women whose lives it touches.
First there's bold, passionate Gwen, born in the
nineteenth century, coming of age in the twentieth,
struggling to be an artist, and leaving for Paris where
she becomes Rodin's lover and paints a small, intimate
picture of a quiet corner of her attic room...
Then there's Charlotte, a dreamy intellectual .
Edwardian girl, with artistic leanings, but less talent;
and Stella, Lucasta, Ailsa and finally young Gillian,
who all share an unspoken desire to 'keep the world
away', to have for themselves a tranquil golden place
like that in the painting.
Quintessential Forster, this is a novel about women's lives, about what it means and what it costs to be both a woman and an artist, and an unusual, compelling look at a beautiful painting (by Gwen John) and its imagined afterlife.