This is a wonderful book. I read it on the plane coming back from Virginia, where the main character, Merle, grew up. Parts of it gripped me so hard that I sat there in my seat, grinning like a fool, as if someone had just drenched me in sunshine.
At the beginning of the novel, Merle is an 18-year-old art student in Washington, D.C. in 1978. On page 1 she leaps head-first into an affair with her 23-year-old teacher, Clea, because Clea is beautiful and Merle wants to capture her image. It’s not a romance in the typical sense; it’s a relationship between artist and muse, which is both straightforward and complex. In a way, the entire novel is about the relationship between artist and muse — or between artist and creative spark. [Continue reading]