“The most important qualities a human can possess are an iron will and a persevering spirit.”
I have always loved books based on paintings: Tracy Chevalier’s Girl With A Pearl Earring, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Alexandra Connor’s The Hogarth Conspiracy. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline was no exception. After hearing so much about this book when I saw this book on the shelves at my local library I quickly snatched it up and devoured it. I was not disappointed.
Based off of artist Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, A Piece of the World is the fictional memoir of the muse behind the masterpiece. Set in New England between the years 1896 and 1948 the novel is centered on the Hathorn/Olson homestead in Cushing, Maine. As the plot unfolds we learn about Christina Olson’s complicated relationship with both her family and the land that she has been born to. In part to her restricted mobility and emotionally disconnected parents Christie has a bleak and lonely childhood
The story follows through Christie’s adulthood: the would’ves and could’ves, the losses, the regrets, and the cherished gifts in our life. While reading I felt my heart break for this woman, and emphasized with the complicated relationships that form the fiber of any family. The prose is both meandering and evocative: like a long sit with a friend in which there is no agenda.
A weaving of fiction and historical fact: A Piece of the World is a rich and indulgent tribute to the too often overlooked story of the muse. Who is this woman behind the painting that has intrigued and captivated generations of people for almost seventy years? Her name is Christina, and this is her story.