Wednesday, August 12, 2020

More Summer Reading: In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

Clare Clark's novel In the Full Light of the Sun is set in 1920s Berlin, when the German people are suffering from the after effects of WWI--skyrocketing inflation and food shortage--and Hitler and his Nazi party are rising to power. The political tension at first serves in the background of this story, but increases in intensity throughout the narrative.

I am drawn to works of fiction that deal with the art world, particularly the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. I loved the novel Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann, which accounted for Van Gogh's time aspiring to a career in the ministry, serving in a coal-mining town. I also encourage (beg) anyone who hasn't seen the amazing film Loving Vincent to do so--preferably on the big screen.

Van Gogh is not a character in this novel; his paintings, however, take center stage (or lots of museum wall space). Clark pulls together a number of characters. The story opens with Julius, a wealthy art critic, whose wife leaves him, taking their son and his prized Van Gogh painting. The blank spot on the wall torments him. He develops a professional relationship bordering on friendship with Rachmann, an art collector who opens a gallery with his brother. They manage to collect before unknown Van Gogh painting from a mysterious source in Spain. Rounding out the narrative is Emmeline, an art student in Berlin despite her mother's wishes whose path crosses with both men.

bBased on actual events, this one of many intriguing art stories that come out of Europe around the time of the second world war, when forgery was a crime on par with the stolen art of this time period.  Clark captures the human dynamics when money and egos are at stake and greed, deception, and attraction intersect.
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