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Friday, March 21, 2014

Life is Art: HOLD STILL by Cherry Smyth

Why hello there!
Greetings and salutations my dear friends.
Welcome back to the site that likes to mix things up a bit when it comes to reading choices because after all, variety IS the spice of life….Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Despite my tendency to dip into several genres and leave you guessing as to what’s to come on any given day, there’s one thing you CAN count on…it will be presented with care, with fairness, and with honesty, whether I enjoyed it to no end, couldn’t fathom reading another word, or fell somewhere in-between.  After all, one reader’s passion is another reader’s discontent but today’s spotlight shines on something that fell smack dab in the middle.  However, before we go two stepping around the details and discussing what is or isn’t art, let’s properly greet today’s book of choice….

Cherry Smyth
Holland Park Press

About the book…
…set in 1860s London and Paris…a fictional account of a short period in the life of Joanna Hiffernan, the muse and model of both James Whistler and Gustave Courbet.…an enthralling picture of what must have been a remarkable woman.

I’ve read a book or two like this before, the most memorable (to me at least) being about a ballerina in war times, and as they deal with the fictitious makings of someone’s real life story, they often feel very vivid, placing you there in the moment.  Sometimes that’s a blessing, other times…well, there are things we’d rather not feel nor wish upon anyone, but the true strength of these tales is in recreating that drama, that moment and presenting it with as much color as possible.  Here, I do believe the author has successfully accomplished that goal with every stroke of the pen, or press of the keyboard as the case might be.

Jo’s life is a canvas as is her chosen profession, both in practice, employment, and pastime.  Whether in times of work or times of respite, the power of conveying scenes and emotions transfixes her with every stroke.   I myself usually have my hand in some sort of artistic endeavor, though not to make a living by.  The thrill of seeing something come to life is truly remarkable; I highly recommend it to everyone.  That being said, not everyone has the talent to accomplish such feats…and no, I’m not saying my efforts were talent-filled…but it only takes one person to see your creation as art to make it so, whether that be you, yours, or someone of higher acclaim in the field.  Centering back on our lead…
Symphony in White, No.1:
The White Girl

Jo’s works were, for the most part, in progress…as was her life.  She was still getting her legs about her, finding her inner artist, and while on that journey to self discovery, she made some other realizations about herself and the world that surrounds her.  From her own desires outside of her craft to her curiosities about mankind as a whole, from her penchant for pushing the envelope while staying within her moral bounds to her enjoyment of riding the cusp of innovation, she is a multifaceted woman if there ever was.  More power to her I say!  ^_^  Though the steps she chose cast her in the role of muse more often than not, it allowed her the chance to see what strength and power lies within that very role; something not often understood on the surface.  Onward and upward…

The tale is broken up into sections, those of which as a whole cover a mere six years of Ms. Hiffernan’s life; honestly, it felt much longer, a fact that even Jo comments on within the work.  The experiences she has are laid before us during this time, as bare as those canvasses we were speaking of and as rich as the color palette chosen, despite the brief length of time they cover, take us from childhood to womanhood.  We learn of her constant battles, even in calmer contexts, to have the freedom to do as she wishes, pursue the dreams she holds dear and generally, live her life the way she sees fit.  At times, I can’t help but wonder if she got a bit too caught up in her struggles to “rise above”.  Some of the conventional things of her day that she formerly brushed aside, as the years progressed, showed more appeal and yet it didn’t feel like she could break out of the persona she created.  Another form of restriction and confinement, or simply a case of never quite being satisfied with what one has or has achieved?  *ponders

Holland Park Press
So, my fair readers, I’ll leave you with theses final thoughts…I came, I read, I conquered.  Is it a book for every reader or even every artist?  No…but it DOES have passion on display in several of its exhilarating forms (*ahem*) which I do believe we should all experience in measured doses every day.  Recommended for older teens and beyond due to some content; nothing too scandalous, but enough to mention. 

Review copy received courtesy of Bernadette at Holland Park Press.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog, be sure to stop by their official site, connect with them on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter..  This title is available now, so be on the look out for it on a bookstore shelf near you, or virtual retailer of your choice.

Until next time…happy reading!

1 comment:

Felicity Grace Terry said...

On the face of it this isn't the kind of book I'm normally be drawn to but there are several things about your review that make me wonder if it is fact a book I'd enjoy.

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