The Flames

Overlook. Mar. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9781419766312. $28. F
DEBUT Haydock’s first novel is beautiful and haunting, breathing life into the stories of painter Egon Schiele and the women who supported him. In Vienna in the early 20th century, Egon Schiele is an artist both renowned and reviled for his controversial portrayals of the human form. Having grown up in an impoverished family, Egon and his sister Gertrude share a special bond, and she loves his art. With Gertrude’s encouragement, Egon continues his passion in secret, until the day he is finally able to leave home (and Gertrude) to find inspiration from his hero, Gustav Klimt. Klimt’s current model is an intriguing young woman named Vally, who quickly becomes one of Egon’s growing list of muses. Two sisters from a higher-class family, Adele and Edith, also find their way into the artist’s circle, and a dangerous infatuation soon forms.
VERDICT Haydock builds her story on the real women who surrounded Schiele. Told from various points of view, it is a love story dedicated to Gertrude, Adele, Edith, and Vally. Recommended for general and historical fiction readers, as well as those interested in how life in Schiele’s inner circle might have looked.
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