cover image Leonora in the Morning Light

Leonora in the Morning Light

Michaela Carter. Avid Reader, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-982120-51-1

Carter (Further Out than You Thought) brilliantly fictionalizes surrealist painter Leonora Carrington’s coming-of-age amid the Nazi occupation of France and her consuming affair with fellow artist Max Ernst. When the two meet in 1937 London, Leonora is a 20-year-old art student already enamored of 46-year-old Max. She chooses love and art over her family’s money, and dives into the surrealist movement. Her life in Paris and beyond is studded with famous contemporaries, including André Breton, Paul and Nusch Éluard, Leonor Fini, and Lee Miller. But as Leonora and Max establish a haven in southern France, the country falls to the Germans. The Gestapo send Max to an internment camp, leading the unmoored Leonora to flee to Madrid, where she has a breakdown. The story jumps to Lisbon and then America as European artists flee with the help of art collector Peggy Guggenheim. Through Leonora, Carter contemplates the magic of young love, the trauma of war, and the vagaries of artistic vision: “To become the master, she has killed the muse. It is that simple.” There isn’t one misstep in here. (Apr.)