I love art-themed fiction books. What about you?

I love art-themed fiction books. What about you?

Love is Love is my art-themed book. What’s it about?

Here’s the synopsis I’ve been sending out to agents.

Love is Love is set in outback Queensland in the fictional town of St James. Three relationship narratives are interwoven throughout this novel. The story of Bess Willer, a famous Australian artist and her lifelong partner, Anne Samson, a successful lawyer, is one of these narratives.  The relationship between their gay nephew, Joe Willer and his partner, Ali is a second thread and the third is that of St James local identity, Birdie Watson. This saga spans seventy-five years from 1940 to 2015.

After fifteen years in Sydney, Joe Willer returns to his rural Queensland hometown to practice law in Anne’s firm. He remembers St James as a town full of people, expert at minding each other’s business. Little has changed. Nick’s Café thrives. The pubs do brisk business. Conversations begin with the weather. Nora still spreads gossip. Joe soon regrets bringing his long-term male partner, Ali, for a week’s visit, afraid locals will realise they’re more than friends.

Three days after arriving in St James, Joe finds his seventy-five-year-old aunts collapsed on their kitchen floor; Anne appears dead, Bess barely conscious. As Joe awaits information from the hospital, the story unfolds.

While recovering, Bess and Anne recall their early lives at boarding school, the tragic death of Anne’s family in a house fire, university and art school in Sydney. They reminisce about their life in Sydney, living together as young lovers, painting with Brett Whiteley at Sofela, road trips to visit Pro Hart and Charles Blackman, Bess’s first studio at Stanwell Park, years spent in Paris, friendships, property purchases, break-ups, reconciliations and their eventual return to St James.

While the town waits for news about Bess and Ann, Joe and Ali discover their secrets including an art collection worth millions. They meet Birdie and other town characters. Meanwhile, Joe’s relationship with Ali fractures as a result of Joe criticism of Ali’s flamboyant personality. Alone and conflicted after Ali flees to Sydney, Joe discovers friends and family already assume he’s gay and don’t care. Birdie assures him that the haters are in a minority and should be ignored.

Once Bess and Anne recover, they hatch plans to revitalise the dying town. Joe starts the ‘Art-in-the-West’ project, and rediscovers a love of St James which brings self-acceptance, and the courage and determination to win back Ali.

Narrated by the five main characters, Love is Love is about the anguish of forbidden love and relationships, rural life in Australia, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness.

Love is Love will appeal to fans of the series, A Place to Call Home and to supporters of social justice and marriage equality.

Getting ready to edit “Love is Love.”

I love my novel, but so far I’ve been unable to attract an agent, so it’s time to revise and edit it, yet again. We all know, you can’t write if you don’t read, so I’ve been devouring art-themed novels in the hope of gaining some more insights.

What have I read?

Previously, I’ve read a heap of biographies about famous Australian artists including Pro Hart, William Dobell, Margaret Preston, Brett Whiteley, Margaret Olley, Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale and Charles Blackman. I’ve also read some well respected art-themed fiction books including The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Last Painting of Sara De Vas by Dominic Smith and The Death of Noah Glass, by Gail Jones. Each one offered me background and insights for my writing of Love is Love.

But I needed more inspiration.

I wanted to see how other authors expressed themselves on the page and also how they described the process of painting, or the feelings associated with sitting and holding a pose. So I downloaded a few Australian art-themed books and devoured them. The Sitter by Angela O’Keeffe, Girl in the Pink Dress, by Kylie Needham and The Prize by Kim E Anderson are all outstanding and I recommend all of them.

Ready to revise and edit.

Feeling inspired, I’m ready to tackle the mammoth task of reworking and editing, Love is Love. And while I undertake this, I intend reading a few more art-themed novels.

Do you have any suggestions?

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4 thoughts on “I love art-themed fiction books. What about you?”

  1. ‘Girl with a Pearl Earing’ was a popular historical novel laced with scandal and the social class distinctions could mirror the gay difficulties experienced by Joe and Ali…
    Just a thought ???

    1. Hi Alan, I too loved ‘Girl with the Pearl Earing’. I forgot to include it. Thanks. Steve

  2. You’ve hooked me. You introduced me to A Place To Call Home, which I devoured. As an American with only one Australian trip under my belt I enjoy learning more about the culture, history and people. I look forward to Love is Love

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