Life Drawing a novel by Robin Black
This novel is sure to stay with me in the coming weeks. I just finished it but I feel compelled to leave my impressions immediately because it is rare a book can touch me so deeply and make me feel so much.
I love books, and there are all sorts of stories I can relate to, but this portrait of a marriage and of a family is heartbreaking and shockingly honest, and made a beautiful sense out of the fact that we can never quite know another person. Even the ones we know the best.
The story has many passages in which the main character and narrator Augusta ("Gus") is speaking with her father in a home care facility. He is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease as both of my own parents are. There is a moment where she shares her story with her father knowing that every time she tells him the story can be different because his illness doesn't allow him to recollect the prior tellings. At this moment I cried, pitifully and openly. I sobbed for my father who was a schoolteacher and how this illness both robbed him of the intelligence and gift for teaching that was his life's work and yet oddly instilled in him the ability to forget his plight and live both in the moment and in his memories simultaneously. That in itself is a peace few of us know, and the author did a beautiful job of telling this truth as well as the many other small inconvenient truths about long term relationships and why we love the people we choose as our spouses, our families, our children. I fell in love with her voice - the author's and the narrator's and went through this book with a feeling that she was helping me to understand something I had missed of this disease.
This is a beautiful book. Sad and lovely. The paintings Gus creates througout are worded so vividly you can see every detail. Ms. Black has a gift for writing the minutiae of feelings and the tone of relationships much as Gus has a gift of detail with her brush.
Don't hesitate to buy it.
Read more about the plot and the author on Robin Black's website. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
I was fortunate to win an Advance Reader Copy of this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I just purchased a copy of the author's other novel If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This and can't wait for it to arrive.