Life Drawing; Robin Black
Random House - 2014
(Intro) - "In the days leading up to my husband Owen's death, he visited Allison's house every afternoon. I would watch him trudge over the small snowy hill between our two properties, half the time away from me, half the time toward me. And I would wonder what he thought about as he went. Wonder too if Allison watched him from a window of her own, and whether the expression she saw on his face as he approached was different from the one I saw as he came home."
From the very first paragraph of Life Drawing, it is clear that Owen is dead. Yes, the reader is curious how he died, but once I began this story, I so so enthralled by the beautiful writing and memorable passages that getting to the actual event didn't seem as important to me.
The story is told by August (Gus), 47, after her husband's death. The novel is their life story, a marriage of 20 years. August is an artist and Owen was a writer. The couple moves from the city to the countryside in rural Pennsylvania for a fresh start after Gus's affair with the father of one of her students. The two hope that the solitude of the country will help heal the wounds of betrayal, as well as inspire their creative talents.
After the couple settles in they meet a new neighbor across the way who has moved to a rundown home there. Allison is around the same age as the couple, divorced with an abusive ex-husband and a daughter. She's on sabbatical and hoping this change in locale is just what she needs as well. Soon the quiet isolation the couple hopes for becomes steeped in tension as the friendship intensifies.
Life Drawing is a wonderful debut novel. It's a beautiful portrait or a marriage --warts and all. The writing is very literary and each character is fully explored. The story is tension-filled from the very first page. With a few unexpected twists, most of all, Life Drawing, it is a story of love, secrets, betrayals and jealousy, and a story that sticks with you.