I Always Loved You

Viking. Feb. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780670785797. $27.95. F
Paris in the mid-to-late 19th century was the place to be if you were an artist, especially an artist trying to shake up the stodgy traditional art institutions. It was the beginning of impressionism, a movement whose birth was quite painful for all involved. Oliveira's (My Name Is Mary Sutter) new novel purports to be about the decade-long, convoluted, and complicated relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, yet it encompasses so much more—the relationships among other luminaries of the period, the difficulty of being a single woman and an artist in a harsh and often unforgiving male-dominated world, and the complexities of dealing with family.
VERDICT Oliveira has woven a rich tapestry of the artist's life in Belle Époque Paris, in a close, intimate rendering rather than a grand, sweeping landscape. Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in this time period will enjoy the novel, as will those who like fictionalized accounts of historical figures.

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