cover image The God of Spring

The God of Spring

Arabella Edge, . . Simon & Schuster, $24 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9484-3

Edge's second historical (after The Company ) takes as its subject the French artist Théodore Géricault and the genesis of one of his best-known paintings, The Raft of the Medusa . It is 1818, and Géricault is trying to extract himself from an affair with Alexandrine, six years his senior but much younger than her husband, who happens to be Géricault's uncle and benefactor. Géricault is also at a crossroads in his career: six years after winning the gold medal at the Paris Salon for his painting Charging Chasseur , Géricault is in desperate need of a subject for a new painting that will get him back into the Salon. At this point Géricault becomes obsessed with the shipwreck of the Medusa , a frigate that went aground off the coast of Cape Blanco. He interviews survivors and becomes increasingly obsessed with every vivid and unsettling detail of the shipwreck. As Géricault begins to paint his vision of the aftermath of the catastrophe, his own life disintegrates: Alexandrine becomes pregnant and their affair is discovered, with disastrous consequences. This is a thoughtful and richly imagined story about the darker aspects of the artistic process and the costs of obsession. (Mar.)