‘A Piece of the World’ examines famous painter and his subject

The story swings between seasons in the life of Christina Olsen, famously painted by Andrew Wyeth.

“A Piece of the World” by Christina Baker Kline follows the life of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World.”

“A Piece of the World” by Christina Baker Kline follows the life of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World.”

By Margo, Everett Public Library staff

Christina Baker Kline’s most recent novel, A Piece of the World, is set against the backdrop of the remote coastal town of Cushing, Maine. It is the location where Andrew Wyeth created his famous masterpiece Christina’s World. To gain a better understanding of the artist I checked out Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In by Nancy Anderson. I found this informative book with photos of Wyeth’s work fascinating, adding to my enjoyment of the novel. This was furthered as I listened to A Piece of the World on audio book and read by Polly Stone whose hypnotic voice was like a tonic.

Kline’s novel primarily follows the life of Christina Olson, the subject of Wyeth’s painting. The author draws from historical facts and imagination to paint a portrait, no pun intended, of Christina Olson. Christina lived her entire life in her family home which dates back to her mother’s Hathorn side of the family. In her youth Christina was vibrant and full of determination, choosing to not let her physical disability keep her from enjoying life. It is during this period that Christina’s parents seek medical treatment for her in anticipation of finding a cure for their daughter’s crippled leg. But a day’s journey by buggy in the hopes of finding a remedy turned sour when Christina refused to be seen by the physician. Her father was furious. At age 12, still eager to continue her education, Christina’s dreams are overruled by her father and she is forced to stay at home, assisting her fragile mother with chores and attending to her younger brothers.

The story, like Wyeth’s painting of curtains lifting off the window frame by ocean breezes, swings between alternating seasons in Christina’s life, exposing light and air followed by darkness and disappointment.

It is during mid-life that Christina, fairly isolated and bitter, meets a young Andrew Wyeth by way of her young neighbor and friend Betsy. Wyeth is sensitive and enthusiastic yet a bit hesitant to take the spotlight. During his first visit to the homestead he is instantly taken with its character and makes a studio in an upper bedroom. The young couple fall in love and are married; they will remain a part of the Olson’s life for years.

I’ll admit that I’d all but given up on completing this post until I spotted an advertisement for a Wyeth exhibit coming to SAM. I’m even more thrilled to discover that the companion book to the exhibit can be checked out from the Everett Public Library: Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect.

I don’t know about you, but this sort of crazy coincidence (reading a good historical novel that piqued my appetite to learn more about the artist and then having the opportunity to go see his work) is simply thrilling!

Visit the Everett Public Library blog for more reviews and news of all things happening at the library.

Talk to us

More in Life

Bothell band dedicates new single to noted sound engineer

Colossal Boss’ “Fool” was recorded by Tom Pfaeffle shortly before he was fatally shot in 2009.

There’s an untold story behind winning photo in Schack contest

“Idiosyncratic,” by Makayla McMullen of Lake Stevens High School, was named the grand prize winner.

Northwest Folklife Festival postponed

The event will not be held Memorial Day weekend for first time in 49 years.

Robert Gamache (right) hands lunch to a child at the Granite Falls Boys Girls Club. Donations have helped the Boys Girls Clubs of Snohomish County stay open during the coronavirus outbreak. “It’s helping us to keep these kids safe and makes sure they get a hot meal,” says Marci Volmer, COO of the county’s clubhouses. “For some, it’s the only one they might get.” (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
With schools closed, Boys & Girls Clubs step up child care

The clubs’ leader in Snohomish County offers fun ideas for keeping housebound kids engaged.

We’d like to post your stories of random acts of kindness

Here is your chance to praise someone, thank someone or call attention to something good that’s happened.

COVID-19 and supporting essential workers

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

Events listed here are scheduled to happen after April 6, when the… Continue reading

Schedule of special film screenings around Snohomish County

Events listed here are scheduled to happen after April 6, when the… Continue reading

All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

Events listed here are scheduled to happen after April 6, when the… Continue reading

Most Read