Sena Jeter Naslund has written some amazing books including Ahab's Wife and Abundance, but now she brings us The Fountain of St. James Court: Or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman, the novel she is most excited about. To share in her excitement, feel free to check out this excerpt and then mark your calendars for September 10, 2013, at 7pm EST when you can Facebook chat with her.
To: My Friends, The Librarians of the United States
Were it not for a librarian at the Birmingham Public Library, I would not have become a writer. Because a librarian recommended to my mother that she read aloud to me the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of Little House books, I was filled with wonder that mere words could transport a person from one time and place to another. And I thought I’d like to be able to do that someday.
It has meant the world to me that my bestselling novels have received awards from the Alabama Library Association and also from the Southeastern Library Association, as well as receiving the Harper Lee Award and the Hall-Waters Southern Prize.
I want to invite you to read my latest novel THE FOUNTAIN OF ST. JAMES COURT; OR, PORTRAIT OF
THE ARTIST AS AN OLD WOMAN. I’ve never been so excited about any of my novels as this one, so dear to my heart. It’s about a fictitious writer (Kathryn Callaghan) who is inspired by a beautiful public fountain in front of her house. Having just finished writing a new novel based on the life of a real painter, Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun (1755-1842), now the writer’s own contemporary life comes crashing in on her. Will she be a survivor, as Élisabeth was of the French revolution, or will Kathryn’s belief in nonviolence prevent her from using the gun she keeps in a drawer?
This new novel interweaves the two stories of the contemporary writer Kathryn Callaghan and the wildly successful, despite huge odds, painter Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun (you can see her portraits today in many major museums including the Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the National Galleries of London and Washington DC). The book takes readers behind the scenes: where do writers get the ideas for their books and how do painters draw inspiration from other painters? How do creative women balance their personal life and the ambition to be an artist?
For nearly a hundred years James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has suggested an iconic image—a rebellious young man who longs to write. My novel suggests another image––a woman of age and accomplished achievement who has made not only her fortune but her happiness through devotion to her art. I hope you enjoy my new novel and will recommend this very special, and, I feel, much needed book. I remain always in your debt.
Sena Jeter Naslund
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