Title: Life Drawing
Author: Robin Black
No. of Pages: 256
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Origins: Random House
Release Date: 15 July 2014
Bottom Line: Gorgeously written, stunning story
“In Life Drawing, her gorgeously written first novel, Robin Black unfolds a fierce, honest, and moving portrait of a woman, and of a couple’s life—the betrayals and intimacies, the needs and regrets, the secrets that sustain love and the ones that threaten to destroy it.
Augusta and Owen have moved to the country, and live a quiet, and rather solitary life, Gus as a painter, Owen as a writer. They have left behind the city, and its associations to a troubled past, devoting their days to each other and their art. But beneath the surface of this tranquil existence lies the heavy truth of Gus’s past betrayal, an affair that ended, but that quietly haunts Owen, Gus and their marriage.
When Alison Hemmings, a beautiful British divorcée, moves in next door, Gus, feeling lonely and isolated, finds herself drawn to Alison, and as their relationship deepens, the lives of the three neighbors become more and more tightly intertwined. With the arrival of Alison’s daughter Nora, the emotions among them grow so intense that even the slightest misstep has the potential to do irrevocable harm to them all
With lyrical precision and taut, suspenseful storytelling, Black steadily draws us deeper into a world filled with joys and darkness, love and sorrows, a world that becomes as real as our own. Life Drawing is a novel as beautiful and unsparing as the human heart.”
Thoughts: It is so easy to dislike all of the characters involved in Life Drawing. They are all flawed, self-involved, and focused on the wrong things. Gus and Owen have some very nontraditional ideas about relationships that may or may not be the root of their problems depending on how one interprets their actions. Alison has obvious issues, making Gus’ confessional involvement with her questionable. As for Nora, she may or may not be exactly what Gus considers her to be. The danger is discerning Gus’ very strong opinions and preventing them from influencing one’s own awareness of the story and its characters. Yet, this emotional involvement and Gus’ obvious bias towards Nora and by extension Alison pique a reader’s interest. One wants to know how their story intersects to create such strong emotion.
In addition, knowing how Gus and Owen’s story ends creates an unspoken tension that fuels a reader’s engagement in the story. It is not so much a need to play detective as a need to know how it all develops. Gus reveals very few clues but her pain is obvious, serving to heighten the suspense and sense of doom that permeates the story.
Life Drawing is truly a gorgeous novel. The writing is outstanding. Intense, emotionally wrought, and with an attention to detail that rivals Gus’ own, Ms. Black makes readers become part of the story. The reader will feel emotionally invested in the unfolding drama not only because the reader knows exactly how it is going to end based on the first sentence of the novel but also because one cannot help become swept up in the emotional roller coaster.