Christina Baker Kline, author of New York Times Bestseller Orphan Train has done it again with her latest novel A Piece of the World. Kline intermixes fact and fiction to tell the story of Christina Olson, the woman portrayed in Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World.
Fact – the painting Christina’s World was painted by Andrew Wyeth in 1948 and according to Wikipedia is “one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century”.
Another fact: I wasn’t familiar with this painting….shhhhh!!!
Set in the 1940s, Kline “paints” the picture of the life story of Christina Olson, an intelligent, loyal, hard-working, and increasingly disabled woman due to a childhood illness. Faced with the hope of a career, love, and leaving the family farm that has been in their family for generations, Christina soon learns the powerful influence that other people have on the trajectory of her life.
Kline’s story of Christina Olson is a somewhat sad one, intermingled with an authoritarian father, a quiet mother, a loyal brother, a feeble boyfriend, and an insightful painter. Most of whom throughout the course of the story also let others influence their decisions about their future. A future that in many ways gets smaller and smaller as their servitude to others costs them their happiness.
Ultimately, this book is about what Wyeth sees inside Christina and why he paints her in this image. Perhaps, the only one who truly understands her, Wyeth unveils what he sees in Christina at the end of the story, and perhaps what he sees in each of us. What is it? You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.
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