The Artist Colony by Joanna Fitzpatrick | Book Review

What would it take to break the bond that exists between siblings?

In The Artist Colony, author Joanna Fitzpatrick depicts two sisters who have been estranged for a while when one dies, and yet the surviving sister feels compelled to probe out the details of what is reported as a suicide. Although the sisters haven’t been close in recent months, it is obvious that they knew each other at the core and this portrayal of sibling bond sparked all my emotions. The novel is very atmospheric with the descriptions of the art scene and the California landscape enhancing the experience of immersing into this mystery. I am not an expert on the historical details but the early 1900s setting felt very authentically represented and well placed, with the discrimination the female characters were subject to and other references that the author sprinkled throughout the novel. 

Fitzpatrick portrays some of the misogyny of the times and the  decisions made by women to combat discrimination by creating enclaves for themselves. This gives a good background for some of the decisions that the sisters make in the novel – like Ada’s women’s society which comes complete with a suicide pact , that makes the details of her death a little murkier to wade through. 

The sibling relationship is authentically drawn with ebbs and flows and the artistic and literary descriptions are as vivid and intense as the canvases in the female occupied Artist Colony at the center of this novel.

High praise for this one, especially if you enjoy reading books about art, or love seeing sibling relationships explored in novels. 

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book to participate in a publicity tour organized by TLC Book Tours. I was not otherwise compensated and the above reflects my honest opinion about the book.

Publisher Synopsis

July 1924. Sarah Cunningham, a young Modernist painter, arrives in Carmel-by-the-Sea from Paris to bury her older sister, Ada Belle. En route, she is shocked to learn that Ada Belle’s suspicious death is a suicide. But why kill herself? Her plein air paintings were famous and her upcoming exhibition of portraitures would bring her even wider recognition.

Sarah puts her own artistic career on hold and, trailed by Ada Belle’s devoted dog, Albert, becomes a secret sleuth, a task made harder by the misogyny and racism she discovers in this seemingly idyllic locale.

Part mystery, part historical fiction, this engrossing novel celebrates the artistic talents of early women painters, the deep bonds of sisterhood, the muse that is beautiful scenery, and the determination of one young woman to discover the truth, to protect an artistic legacy, and to give her sister the farewell she deserves.

Book Details

  • Title: The Artist Colony
  • Author: Joanna Fitzpatrick
  • Format: Paperback 
  • Pages: 328 
  • Publisher: She Writes Press
  • Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Find other reviews about this book here 

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