I Always Loved You

I Always Loved You

A Story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas

Book - 2014
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'Paint love, he once said to her. You must always paint love.'

The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary's fierce determination wavers. Her father is imploring her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

In I Always Loved You , Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Bell Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.

'What a joy it is to be back in Bell Époque Paris with my old artist friends, guided by the masterful pen of Robin Oliveira whose finely crafted language brings to light the complicated relationships of four of the principals of the Impressionist movement - Cassatt, Degas, Manet, Morisot. Only an omniscient narrator has the latitude to disclose the private yearnings and fears of these four as they grapple with issues of art execution, scathing reviews, self-doubt, elusive fame, tempestuous love, and creeping morality. Here, in beautiful prose, juicy with nuance and depth, is the intimate, heart-wrenching story behind Impressionist art history, with Mary Cassatt at its center. A glorious achievement.' Susan Vreeland, author of Luncheon of the Boating Party

'I Always Loved You is a marvelous work, enthralling, illuminating, and beautifully rendered. Robin Oliveira brings Bell Époque Paris and the fascinating artists and writers who walked its streets and filled its salons to the fullness of vivid, fiercely passionate life.' Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

'Oliveira's breathtaking, cinematic novel transported me to late-nineteenth-century Paris, to lively salons and cafés, and to the refuge of the studio . . . This story reveals what it means to be an artist who is also a woman, and you will feel both the anguish and the triumph down in your bones.' Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

'In artfully crafted prose as penetrating and radiant as an Impressionist masterpiece, Robin Oliveira's moving portrait of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas is a poignant reminder that beneath the majestic sweep of history and ideas are men and women with yearnings and trepidations as urgent and palpable as our own. I Always Loved You evokes, in brilliant detail, the nuances of culture, art, and society in the cafés and salons of late-nineteenth-century Paris while bringing to life the spellbinding whirl of artists, writers, and savants who made La Belle Époque legendary.' John Pipkin, author of Woodsburner

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2014.
ISBN: 9780670785797
Branch Call Number: FIC Olive
Characteristics: 343 p.


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The writing style is so boring. I had to keep skimming to move on with the plot line. The description of period details are uninspired and the narrative of the historical characters and their conflicts are drawn out too long and in too much detail. I would not read anything else by this author.

FederalWayEdna Jul 12, 2015

Interesting historical (and political) background about the group of French Impressionists who were the instigators for breaking with The Salon. The writer's style presents itself like Vanity Fair drawing you in to the gossip of the day. Readers will want to even more about the relationships between these gifted artists including their own family dynamics and marriages. The title is not just about Degas's and Cassatt's relationship; there are more facets of love in this story, including passion for displaying their own interpretations of life and color in their art.

Dec 07, 2014

The book made me interested enough to go look at the paintings created by the various artists mentioned in the book and as a result, I now have a basic understanding of this form of art.

Between the two relationships that were presented in the book, I preferred reading the one between Cassatt and Degas despite it being more confusing and frustrating.

It was interesting to read how all our major characters thought of love at the end of their lives and the decisions they made regarding it. I wonder if a life lived is an unhappy one if you did not "have love" as Cassatt stated? I wonder if they would consider their lives as unhappy.

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