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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life Drawing: A Novel

I am not quite sure what I expected out of Robin Black's Life Drawing, but I can tell you what I got--a stunning debut novel that blew me away. 

Augusta, or Gus to those who love her, and her husband Owen moved to a small patch of land in a remote northeastern town after Gus reveals to Owen that she has had an affair. They rebuild their marriage and their world in this small, secluded home, and each works on their art; Owen is a writer and Gus is a painter. Suddenly one day a neighbor moves in, and Gus finds herself becoming close with Alison, a woman about the same age who has gone through her own share of hard knocks. This kicks off a series of events that will soon shatter each of their lives.

So, yeah, about this. What I mean when I say that I didn't know what to expect, what I mean is that the the first sentence of the novel is so spectacular that I wasn't sure if I was going to get a thriller, a love story, or just an intense narrative. It was a little of all of them, but mostly it was a tightly-woven, first-person narrative that kept my nose in a book's spine for HOURS. (Ok, it wasn't really a SPINE so much as it was a Kindle screen if you want to get all technical about it.) Gus is the narrator, so we see her side of things up until the very end, and it is a journey worth taking to discover her story.

I give nothing away when I tell you that this book starts with a death. You find out immediately. I won't tell you whose, even though you find out in that first sentence. In fact, that sentence is so explosive that you just have to read the novel to find out the answer to about six questions that sentence brings up. I guessed wrong several times. It's that impending death, though, that catapults you through the novel and the brain power needed to put the pieces together. Once I finished, I have to admit that the story felt so abutted to my inner workings that it made complete sense--these people's lives could have only turned out this very way. The conclusion was inevitable. But holy hell, what a conclusion it was.

This novel was simply outstanding, and I am thankful that I picked it up without knowing too much about the story. I knew going into it what I told you here, and I hesitate to say more because you also deserve to dive into the story with a willingness to allow the characters to be who they are and become what they will. Happy reading.

Hard copy for purchase below:

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