Saturday, August 17, 2013

BOOK: Night Street by Kristel Thornell

Night Street by  Kristel Thornell, 242 pages

Aussie Author Challenge

The imagined life of one of Australia's most intriguing artists. (from the back cover)

Clarice Beckett, 1887-1935, was an Australian painter of some reknown in her day, but who gained attention years after her death. She lived a solitary life devoted to her art, in defiance of what was expected of a young lady in her day.

 "[Thornell] attempted to 'look' at Beckett as she might have looked at a landscape, squinting to soften edges and reach beyond detail in the search for patterns of light and shade." author's note, p 241

Beckett studied under Meldrum, developing her style and learning ideas of painting. eventually becoming confident enough to have her own style. She preferred landscapes, and avoided portraits and flowers. 

Duncan Max Meldrum (3 December 1875 – 6 June 1955) was a Scottish born Australian painter. He is known as the founder of Australian Tonalism, a representational style of painting, as well as his portrait work, for which he won the Archibald Prize in 1939 and 1940. (wikipedia)

The novel manages to capture the paintings, and the life, of Beckett. Not much is actually known of Beckett, but portraying her life as a reflection of her paintings is inspired, especially as Thornell pulls it off. I waited until after I finished the book to look up her paintings and they match the book. The writing is wispy, blurred, but definite.

While this is not a book I would ever have picked up myself, I am glad that I read it. How did I end up with this little gem of a book? I won it as a prize for participating in the Canadian Book Challenge, hosted by John Mutford at the Book Mine Set. So, big thanks to John for hosting and organizing, and Goose Lane Editions publishers for donating the book.