A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World

A Novel

Book - 2017
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To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century. Author Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists. Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062356260
Branch Call Number: FIC Kline C
Characteristics: 309 pages, 1 unnumbered leaf of plates : color illustration ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Combing both fact and fiction, this is a touching story that brings to life the story behind the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World”, and Christina Olson, the woman who inspired it.

Set on a remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine, this story brings to life the story of Christina Olson, the figure in the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World”.

Recommended by Sue, Cedarville Community Library: "A successful historical fiction will compel me to learn more about the subject. This did just that, and I couldn’t put it down."

Recommended by Sharon, Outreach Services: "If you love art, New England, or historical fiction, you’ll love this book!"


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k
kclifford725
Jan 07, 2019

An interesting fictional account of the story behind the famous “Christina’s World” painting. The story alternates between flashbacks to youth and current time of the painting’s subject, Christina Olson. A little slow to develop in the middle, but an interesting tale which had me researching more about the painter Wyeth and the Olson house after reading.

r
ryner
Sep 11, 2018

With extensive research and a dash of literary license, Kline illustrates the difficult life of the subject of Andrew Wyeth's memorable painting, Christina's World. I've a fondness for "the story behind the art" novels, whether real, embellished or imagined. This was at once a quick, engaging, infuriating and inspiring read. Recommended!

e
eappelbaum
Aug 06, 2018

I admired the book. I agree with another author, Nathan Hill, quoted on the following website: "This is a novel that does what Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting does: it renders a whole universe of love and longing inside a seemingly simple scene."

Author's website: http://christinabakerkline.com/novels/a-piece-of-the-world/

How much of the story is true? See https://www.bookclubgirl.com/book_club_girl/2017/02/behind-a-piece-of-the-world.html

https://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/03/the-work-of-recreating-christinas-world/

Picture of brother mentioned on p. 132 is The Oil Lamp
http://www.artnet.com/artists/andrew-wyeth/the-oil-lamp-eUfK2CrcaJ5E7dqWOKydiQ2

Picture p. 136, Christina Olson, can be seen at
http://wyeth.site.seattleartmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2017/08/ChristinaOlson_RGB_1080px.jpg

The original is at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Famous picture Christina's World is at the Museum of Modern Art. The book has a reproduction at the end, but this website is a better reproduction; click on the picture and listen to the audio.
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78455. Notice how you see each blade of grass.

This article discusses how physicians view the painting:
https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/journalofhumanitiesinrehabilitation/2017/10/17/inside-christinas-world/

P. 173 mentions a story about a woman trapped behind wallpaper. I believe this is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Both books are sympathetic portraits of women who are circumscribed by patriarchal society.

f
fangger
Jul 02, 2018

This story made me sad for Christina and her brother Al, but it drew me in and I felt like a part of their lives. I would definitely recommend this book. It reminded me of summer trips to see my grandmother in rural P.E.I. before they had electricity or indoor plumbing. My uncle lived with and took care of my grandmother - almost imprisoned there, much like Al, as she couldn’t live on her own. A beautiful read.

s
sgcf
Jun 26, 2018

Using the famous Andrew Wyeth painting "Christina’s World", Kline successfully merges some known facts with fiction to imagine the life of Christina Olson. The characters are fully developed and real, and the pace somewhat slower and more strenuous - the way farm life was in the early and mid-20th century. An engaging read.

k_t Jun 26, 2018

A compelling read about rural Maine in the early 21st century. Based on a true story of an artist and his muse. Although Christina's life wasn't particularly 'exciting', it was a really interesting read and I enjoyed the way it was written. Recommended to historical fiction fans.

ArapahoeAnnaL Mar 06, 2018

The plot doesn't follow the typical narrative of a woman's life, partly because the setting never changes. This book is about lack of fulfillment and loss and so it is remarkable that it is so life affirming!

m
MonicaMcFee
Feb 15, 2018

It's not just Andrew Wyeth's mysterious picture anymore. It's an intriguing story. Nicely told.

c
ConMartin
Feb 13, 2018

Did you ever look at the Andrew Wyeth's picture of Christina's World and wonder why she was crawling towards the bleak New England house? In this beautifully written book, author Kline imagines what the relationship between the painter and this isolated woman might have been. Here is a link to my review: http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2018/02/title-piece-of-world-author-christina.html

b
brangwinn
Oct 24, 2017

Kline has recreated the story of Andrew Wyeth’s picture, Christina’s World. She’s done the research and the stark world of Anna Christina Olson comes to life in this deftly written book. I’ll never be able to see the picture without also seeing the dead-end life Christina had.

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b
behere
Jun 07, 2017

"When you live on a farm, everyone is uncomfortable much of the time." p 108

b
behere
Jun 07, 2017

“Intensity—painting emotion into objects—is the only thing I care about.” quote of Andrew. p 97

b
behere
Jun 07, 2017

"I read once that the act of observing changes the nature of what is observed. That is certainly true for Al and me. We are more attuned to the beauty of this old house, with its familiar corners, when Andy is here." p 94

b
behere
Jun 07, 2017

On how people see death: "...the places we go in our minds to find comfort have little to do with where our bodies go." p 88.

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