Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Library Loot ~ September 3-9

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer ~ by Anne-Marie O'Connor, 2012, history
The spellbinding story, part fairy tale, part suspense, of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.  The Bloch-Bauers were art patrons, and Adele herself was considered a rebel of fin de si├Ęcle Vienna (she wanted to be educated, a notion considered "degenerate" in a society that believed women being out in the world went against their feminine "nature").  Klimt made more than a hundred sketches of Adele — simple pencil drawings on thin manila paper.  The Nazis confiscated the portrait of Adele from the Bloch-Bauers' grand palais, and the Austrian government put the painting on display, stripping Adele's Jewish surname from it so that no clues to her identity (nor any hint of her Jewish origins) would be revealed.  Nazi officials called the painting The Lady in Gold and proudly exhibited it in Vienna's Baroque Belvedere Palace, consecrated in the 1930s as a Nazi institution.  The painting was inspired by the Byzantine mosaics Klimt had studied in Italy, with their exotic symbols and swirls, the subject an idol in a golden shrine.  Sixty years after it was stolen by the Nazis, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs.  O'Connor explains how and why the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case and how the Court's decision had profound ramifications in the art world.
The Story Hour ~ by Thrity Umrigar, 2014, fiction
An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients.  But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates.  Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.  Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend.  Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.  But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations.  When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.
A Good Horse ~ by Jane Smiley, 2010, juvenile fiction (California), 8/10
When eighth grader Abby Lovitt looks out at those pure-gold rolling hills, she knows there’s no place she’d rather be than her family’s ranch — even with all the hard work of tending to nine horses. But some chores are no work at all, like grooming young Jack. At eight months, his rough foal coat has shed out, leaving a smooth, rich silk, like chocolate. As for Black George, such a good horse, it turns out he’s a natural jumper. When he and Abby clear four feet easy as pie, heads start to turn at the ring — buyers’ heads — and Abby knows Daddy won’t turn down a good offer. Then a letter arrives from a private investigator, and suddenly Abby stands to lose not one horse but two. The letter states that Jack’s mare may have been sold to the Lovitts as stolen goods. A mystery unfolds, more surprising than Abby could ever expect. Will she lose her beloved Jack to his rightful owners? Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley raises horses of her own, and her affection and expertise shine through in this inviting horse novel for young readers, set in 1960s California horse country and featuring characters from The Georges and the Jewels.
I read about The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar on Bookfool's blog, heard about The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor from a new acquaintance, and happened to notice A Good Horse by Jane Smiley while looking for another book at the library.  I didn't know Jane Smiley had written a whole series of books for children about horses.  This is one of them.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  See what others got this week.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I'm hearing good things about The Story Hour. Enjoy!