cover image The Light Possessed

The Light Possessed

Alan Cheuse / Author Peregrine Smith Books $19.95 (325p) ISBN

In this fictionalized life of American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, Cheuse ( The Grandmother's Club ) examines the artist's place in the world. As a young girl, Ava Boldin persuades her older brother to let her sketch him in the nude, displaying a commitment to her work that will transcend all other passions, even, later in life, drawing her away from her New York City home with her beloved husband, famed photographer Albert Stigmar (O'Keeffe was married to Alfred Stieglitz) to paint her vision in New Mexico. In intimate tones, Ava's friends and family talk about the artist and her work, the lodestone in their own efforts to live well and fully. Amy Cross, a young artist/writer, and Michael Gillen, Stigmar's bastard son, live with Ava in her last years, opening up her memories and ideas about art. Ava's geologist brother Robert and the desert landscape catch the most light in this unsurprising tale, which would have benefited from sterner editing. For the most part, Cheuse's beautifully used language plays only on the surface of characters and themes. (Oct.)