The Friday Night Club: A Novel of Artist Hilma af Klint and Her Creative Circle

Berkley. May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780593200490. pap. $17. F
Veteran authors Alyson Richman (The Secret of Clouds) and M.J. Rose (Cartier’s Hope) team up with Swedish relative newcomer Lundberg (A Question Mark Is Half a Heart) in this historical novel. Meeting at the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm in the 1880s, artists Hilma af Klint and Anna Cassel form a friendship that withstands decades of highs and lows. As the two begin their creative lives, they welcome Sigrid and sisters Mathilda and Cornelia, forming a group of spiritualist exploration that they call De Fem. In the present day, Guggenheim curator Eben Elliot discovers af Klint’s paintings at an art conference in Sweden. Curious to learn more, Eben finds that his best source of information is art historian Blythe Larkin, the woman who left him eight years ago without explanation. Based on the real artist, her work, and the four other creative women of De Fem, this historical fiction is a fascinating look at the process behind af Klint’s pioneering vision of abstract art. Readers will also see how society in early 20th-century Sweden affected the choices available to women, especially those in non-traditional roles. However, some of the novel’s relationships, in the past and present, don’t feel fully developed, and the resolutions to problems can seem overly simple or rushed.
VERDICT A great choice for discussion that will inspire a deeper look at marginalized women artists. An authors’ note and reader’s guide complete the journey.
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