Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

I thought this book sounded so good.  This is a novel, set in Paris, 1927, based on events in the life of Tamara de Lempicka.  I think most of the story is imagined, not based on fact, but that didn't matter to me.  Paris in the 20s is one of my favorite settings.  I love reading about the writers and artists inhabiting Paris during that time period.

The story about de Lempicka's relationship with one of her young models, Rafaela.  I assumed this was going to be a nice, romantic, passionate story.  Every once in a while, I enjoy those sort of stories.  But this wasn't very romantic or erotic at all. 

In this book, de Lempicka isn't a very nice person.  She's selfish and she uses this young girl who she knows is in love with her to get what she needs.  She leads her on while she needs her, makes promises she has no plans to keep and treats her quite badly.  Not any better than dating a man. 

The setting in nice, and the other characters are interesting.  I enjoyed Rafaela's scenes at Sylvia Beach's bookstore.  She develops a friendship with a man who I am certain is Hemingway (based on what I know from having read The Paris Wife) but he has a different name in the story. 

But in general, the overall story wasn't very interesting.  I had to force my way through this book. 

However, this summer, while I was in Paris, I found myself thinking about this book as I was walking along the Seine and recalling the scene in which Rafaela throws herself into the river (don't worry, she's rescued).  Also, this was the first time I've noticed prints of de Lempicka's work for sale at the bins on the side of the river.  I'm sure they've always been there, but in the past, having not known much about the artist, I hadn't paid much attention to them.

I learned about the artist from the book, so that's one positive aspect of having read it, but I think there are probably plenty of other books about the artists during this time period that I might have better spent my time reading. 

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