We’re All Adults Here
Book Recommendations & Other Musings
by Carol Tuttle
So much more than it seems.
The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro is a novel that pulls the reader in to a world of art and artists, but also history. Yes, it’s another World War II historical fiction novel. Yes, the Holocaust plays an important role and affects the characters deeply. But the setting is the United States, and story pulls you in and makes it a personal journey. The reader finishes the book not only with the satisfaction of a story well-told, but also enriched by the author’s insights into the creation of Abstract Expressionist art, the politics of isolationism (which sounded very current) in the United States, the WPA, and the burdens on Americans concerned about their families in Europe.
I always enjoy my monthly assignment facilitating the Bookies book discussion group in the River’s Edge Pub Room at Grace Woods (Ohio Living Breckenridge Village). Last month we read The Muralist and declared it a winner. Not only was it an excellent read, but the variety of backgrounds and life experiences of the members of this group of readers brought enriching stories to the discussion. Some members had lived through this time period as children. Others discussed what they knew about art and isolationism.
Some insights shared by readers: We now have a deeper understanding of Picasso’s Guernica; we had never considered the mental trauma for Americans who had family in Europe during the Third Reich; we have a greater appreciation for the creative drive and obsession of artists; we viewed Charles Lindbergh in a different light (not flattering); we had not realized how much the Works Progress Administration (WPA) had supported artists. We thought the author did a marvelous job pulling this all together and providing a happy ending, too.
Several members now want to read The Art Forger, the previous novel by B. A. Shapiro. I read this historical novel with another book club, and we also learned much about art as we were mesmerized by a story of secrets and intrigue. This story is based on a real-life event, the heist of over $500 million worth of artwork stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Highly recommended for readers who love mystery, history and art. Or just want to get the fulfillment of reading a good tale well-told.
If you’re a reader, you know what I mean: “Just a book”? It’s so much more than it seems.
Carol Tuttle is the Collection Services Librarian for the Willoughby-Eastlake Library System. She is currently reading Love and Ruin by Paula McLain (publication May 2018) and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney.