Saturday, 1 February 2014

Review: I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

A novel of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas’s great romance from the New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter

The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist 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 begging 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 for 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 Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Viking Adult 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Viking via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*
Historical fiction has always been one of my favourite genres so I was extremely happy to have been granted access to this book in advance of the publication date. I could not wait to dive into the story. There is no doubt that Oliveira is an amazing writer as she so eloquently describes Paris and the art world of that era. She most definitely did her research, knew her stuff and it showed on each and every page.

For me, it was the story itself that fell a little bit short. I just couldn't connect with Mary and Edgar. I think in part it may have been because it jumped from them to Manet and Berthe Morisot which created a bit of confusion. Who was the story about? I was actually more drawn to the Manet and Berthe story which I think was meant to be a secondary story. Their story was just more interesting and tragic. I found Mary and Edgar to be a little boring if I'm totally honest. It wasn't until I was at about 70% that I found their story all that interesting.

If you are a history and art fan you will probably really enjoy the attention to detail in this book. In fact, I feel that this book was more about the art and less about the people. If it is the love story you are after then it may fall a little short as it did for me.


About the Author
Robin Oliveira grew up just outside Albany, New York in Loudonville. She holds a B.A. in Russian, and studied at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow, Russia. She is also a Registered Nurse, specializing in Critical Care and Bone Marrow Transplant. She received an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the fiction editor for the literary magazine upstreet and a former assistant editor at Narrative Magazine. She was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship in 2007 for her then novel-in-progress, THE LAST BEAUTIFUL DAY, an excerpt of which appeared in the 2008 issue of Provincetown Arts. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her family.

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