Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Hardcover: 368 pages Publisher: William Morrow (February 5, 2019)
The follow-up to Susan Gloss’s successful debut, Vintage, is a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.
Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in Madison, WI. But her last pregnancy ended later in the second trimester, and rather than pausing to grieve, she pushes harder for testing and fertility treatments. Urging Nell to apply for jobs, Josh believes his wife needs something else to focus on other than a baby that may never be.
Finding a job turns out to be difficult for an art historian . . . until Nell sees the ad seeking a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony. The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion. The executor of Betsy’s estate simply hands Nell a set of house keys and wishes her luck, leaving her to manage the mansion and the eccentric personalities of the artists who live there on her own.
Soon one of the artists, a young metal sculptor named Odin, is keeping the other residents awake with his late-night welding projects. Nell is pretty sure that Annie, a dreadlocked granny known for her avant garde performance pieces, is dealing drugs out of the basement “studio.” Meanwhile Paige, an art student from the university, takes up residence in the third-floor turret, experimenting with new printing and design techniques, as well as leading a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night.
Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. And when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy–the creative, inspired world she’s created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.
This book was hard to put down while I read it! I loved the beautiful writing and all of the characters we were introduced to. I loved that we had the chance to learn a little bit more about everyone and I enjoyed following each character’s point of view.
I also loved loved loved the location of the novel! I’ve been to Madison; I absolutely love the city. References to the capitol always brought that building to mind. Knowing what I know of that city, it’s the perfect setting for the story and the characters that are in it. There’s actually a reference to riding bike in Madison that had me laughing because it’s so so true. Odin also talks about Minneapolis and it was just… so much fun to read about places I know and am familiar with. I could see this story taking place in both locations.
Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at GlossingOverIt.com, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.
I'm Crystal, a storyteller who currently resides in the frozen tundra of Minneapolis with my sweet pup Little One. At Dreams, etc. you can find my musings about attempting (and sometimes failing) to incorporate daily creativity into the bustle, as well as the things and experiences that provide inspiration. I love gloomy weather, live on coffee and tea, and firmly believe in dancing in the rain... and the moonlight. Thanks for stopping by!
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