Posts tagged Robin Oliveira
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

In her new novel, I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira takes the reader to Paris in the Belle Époque and tells the story of the tumultuous relationships between the radical impressionists, centering on Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. She’s a sensible American with an untapped talent; he’s the master she’s always admired, whose work is more than paint. When Degas, uncharacteristically bewitched, begs an introduction, their lives are catapulted into a swell of emotional upheaval, of joy and loss and the bewildering elusiveness of love. With his genius Degas will guide her to her own profound talent, helping her to see beyond the meager veil of commercialism to redefine her experience of art; but with his maddening unpredictability, his impossible conceit, and his infuriating severity, Mary may find herself at the brink of breaking, whether by spirit or heart. Central in the lives of Mary and Degas are the host of independently-minded artists who brought the impressionist movement to life: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Camille Pissaro. Also among their set are Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet, whose incorrigible love, barely muted by Berthe’s marriage to Édouard’s brother, mirrors the overwhelming and ultimately tragic trajectory of Mary and Degas’s relationship. Oliveira’s rendering of Paris in the late 1800s is a gorgeous, bittersweet love letter to an iconic and wildly romantic time in history, but nothing of I Always Loved You rings of a fairy tale. Instead, the author pursues the sadness and tumult of her characters’ relationships, unearthing the ugliness of love and the miserable beauty of what can be lost. For all this heaviness, though, Oliveira has brought to readers a surprisingly life-affirming novel, one that will test our allegiance to our way of thinking and open our minds, as her Degas would, to a different perspective.

Read More