Painting the Light

Sally Cabot Gunning. Morrow, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-291624-2
Gunning (Monticello: A Daughter and Her Father) delivers an atmospheric, character-driven story of a young woman’s struggle at the turn of the 20th century. Handsome charmer Ezra Pease’s small but prosperous Martha’s Vineyard sheep farm at first seemed idyllic to Ida, a place where she could pursue her interest in drawing and painting. Now, two years into their marriage, Ida realizes she’d made a hasty decision. Ezra, cold and distant, frequently leaves her to handle the farm while he’s off operating a salvage vessel with his business partner, Mose Barstow. Then Ezra and Mose’s ship goes down, with all passengers presumed dead, and Ida feels relief rather than loss. Over the next months, Ida experiences the joys and challenges of living a self-sufficient life: she learns how to ride a bicycle, wears trousers, resumes painting, and makes decisions about the flock. She also falls in love with Mose’s married brother, Henry. Gunning writes beautifully of the landscape and farm life without romanticizing, and each character is vividly rendered without a smidge of excess backstory. Subplots about women’s suffrage and a young orphaned relative seem underdeveloped, but in Ida, Gunning has created a captivating personality. This is one that lingers well after the final page is turned. Agent: Kristine Dahl, ICM Partners. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/10/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-291626-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-6650-9651-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-6650-9650-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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