The Painted Kiss - Elizabeth Hickey No spoilers:

I absolutely adored this book. My modem/computer was down this afternoon and so rather than looking at GR, it was just me and the book, and Oscar of course. I love the book b/c although much is conjecture about the relationship between Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge, I totally believe the author's interpretation. There is a clear author's note. Emilie Flöge was the model for Klimt's painting The Kiss, and it was her name that he spoke when he died. Their relationship feels authentic. I enjoy the sexual energy and the capacity for violence so inherent to these two people. The book is full of emotional turmoil. Not only do you come to understand their personalities but you also understand the historical events they lived through. You learn about how Klimt went about painting, about Emilie's famous fashion salon, about Vienna and its beautiful streets and buildings such as the Secession, about Egon Schiele and Joseph Hoffmann and Berta Zuckerkandl and Carl Moll.... After reading this you really must read Arrogance, about Schiele. I loved that book too!

Through page 130: This is a love story. I like how love is depicted, boht emotionally and sexually. It is a sensual novel. I like the book very, very much. The author has drawn real live people. You get this on top of learning about Klimt as an artist.

Through page 65: This book is about Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge, the model who posed for Klimt's famous painting "The Kiss". She is telling her story as an older woman, looking back on her life. At 12 she was a sassy girl who knew what she liked and didn't like. Her upbringing was very constricted and ruled by propriety. She lived in Vienna. Vienna comes alive with all its past glory.

"The medieval cobbled streets and marzipan-colored buildings were magical, and the dimly-lit shops selling sheet music or crystal goblets were enchanted, but I didn't know it yet It was just the palce I lived I believed that all other cities, all other towns must be similar." (page 19)

The writing is very descriptive, not only of Vienna but also of people and the rules of society. She and her two other sisters must wear stiff lace collars that make it impossible to move their heads. Emilie manages to steal a dinner napkin so the lace wouldn't scratch her.... Anyhow she and her 3 year older sister, Helene, have decided that they wil sneak to Klimt's studio to be painted, after first swiping money for the street-cars from their oldest sister, Pauline. First the area in which the studio is located is described using smells, sights and sounds:

"It was a street where goods were unloaded from ships and put into wagons, where nets of fish were hauled into warehouses to be gutted and salted. You could have a horse's shoe repaired, or your own, a sail mended, or a cow butchered and divided into pieces. The air was oppressive with the smell of things that had been rotting in bins and had finally been exposed to the air."

"In the tenement next to Gustav's building an immigrant from Silesia and his wife had a bakery, and as we climbed the stairs the aroma of dough and hot oil mingled with the sharp, sweet smell of turpentine and the bitter one of iron. The stairs slanted toward the street and a few of them gave way when you stepped on them."

"The studio was cold, since the artists were consistently short of coal for the furnace, and bare, since all the chaors were piled in the center of the room to be used in a tableau. The floor was made of cement and had cracked in places. It was filthy with charcoal dust. Some of the pains in the tall windows were broken and cardboard had been taped over them. The glass looked thin and weak, too thin to keep the cold out."

"Gustav was different here. For one thing, he was wearing a robe instead of a suit...."

"'Do you ever clean up?' asked Helene wonderingly."

"'Why should we?' said Gustav. 'This place is empty. When it gets to dirty to work in we'll move upstairs.'"

"The idea couldn't have been more radical to us. So much of our lives were consumed with keeping things neat. I felt like throwing my coat onto the floor." (from pages 65-67)

Not only can the reader picture the place but also one comes to understand what moves the different characters. I cannot show this to you withour quoting and suoting and quoting, so trust me instead. I prefer this writing styyle to that I just encountered in Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet. And I enjoy the Emilie's spunk.