#WWWWednesday – 20th January 2021


Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too?  Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!

Currently reading

An ARC and a new acquisition…

A Prince and A SpyA Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements (ARC, courtesy of Zaffre and Readers First)

Sweden, 1942 – Two old friends meet. They are cousins. One is Prince George, Duke of Kent, brother of the King of England. The other is Prince Philipp von Hesse, a committed Nazi and close friend of Adolf Hitler.

Days later, the Prince George is killed in a plane crash in the north of Scotland. The official story is that it was an accident – but not everyone is convinced.

There is even a suggestion that the Duke’s plane was sabotaged, but with no evidence, Cambridge spy Tom Wilde is sent north to discover the truth…

20210117_102213-1The Dead of Winter by S.J. Parris (hardcover)

Three exhilarating novellas – The Secret Dead, The Academy of Secrets, and The Dead of Winter – following the early adventures of young priest Giordano Bruno in the dramatic days of sixteenth century Italy.

The Secret Dead – During the summer of 1566, a girl’s body is found within the walls of a Neapolitan monastery. Novice monk Giordano Bruno has a habit of asking difficult questions, but this time his investigations may lose him his place in the Dominican Order – or deliver him into the hands of the Inquisition.

The Academy of Secrets – An invitation arrives from a secret society of enlightened philosophers, led by the eccentric Don Giambattista della Porta. Bruno is captivated – even more so when he meets della Porta’s beautiful niece. But keeping these new heretical secrets soon becomes a matter of life or death…

A Christmas Requiem – When Giordano Bruno is told the pope wants to see him, he fears he may be walking into a trap. The pope is intrigued by Bruno’s talent for complex memory games, but Rome is a den of intrigue, trickery and blood, and Bruno will be lucky to escape the Eternal City alive.

Recently finished

Links from the titles will take you to my reviews

Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse by Arthur D. Hittner 

The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher & Simpson #2) by Ambrose Parry 

Game of the Gods by Paolo Maurensig, translated by Anne Milano Appel

Forgotten Lives (DCI Doug Stirling #2) by Ray Britain

To The Dark (Simon Westow #3) by Chris Nickson (eARC, courtesy of Severn House)

Winter is about to take a chilling twist…

Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.

A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can. (Review to follow for blog tour)

What Cathy (will) Read Next

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (paperback)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness – in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

#BookReview Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse: A Novel by Arthur D. Hittner

Artist Soldier Lover MuseAbout the Book

Freshly graduated from Yale in 1935, Henry J. Kapler parlays his talent, determination and creative energy into a burgeoning art career in New York under the wing of artists such as Edward Hopper and Reginald Marsh.  The young artist first gains notoriety when his depiction of a symbolic interracial handshake between ballplayers is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.

Yet even as his art star rises, his personal life turns precarious – and perilous – when his love for Fiona, a young WPA muralist, collides with his growing attraction to the exquisitely beautiful Alice, an ex-chorus girl who becomes his model and muse.  Alice is the girlfriend of Fiona’s cousin, Jake Powell, the hotheaded, hard-drinking outfielder for the New York Yankees whose jealousy explodes into abuse and rage, endangering the lives of all three.

While Henry wrestles with his complicated love life, he also struggles mightily to reconcile his pacifism with the rabid patriotism of his Jewish-Russian émigré father. As war draws near, Henry faces two difficult choices, one of which could cost him his life.

Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse transports the reader to pre-war New York City, into the creative mind of the artist, and into the lives of major figures from the worlds of art, sports and politics.

Format: ebook (300 pages)                 Publisher: Apple Ridge Fine Arts
Publication date: 1st August 2020   Genre: Historical Fiction

Find Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse on Goodreads

Purchase links
Amazon UK
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Way back while this book was still languishing in my review pile, Arthur explained in a guest post the challenge of capturing in words the inspiration that drives the creative process of an artist. One of the things he said was, “The paintings portrayed in the novelist’s narrative should be equally accessible in the reader’s mind, whether the artwork has an existence in the real world or solely in the writer’s imagination.”

Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse certainly transports the reader to the art world of New York in the 1930s with appearances by real life luminaries such as Edward Hopper (the subject of Christine Dwyer Hickey’s award-winning The Narrow Land) as well as other artists who were previously unknown to me like Edward Laning, Mary Fife Laning and Reginald Marsh. The novel’s main character, Henry J Kapler, is a figment of the author’s imagination but, as he explains in the Afterword, is inspired by the life and career of artist Harold J. Rabinovitz.  Similarly, the paintings by Henry which the reader witnesses him labouring to produce are a mixture of fictional and actual works by Rabinovitz, such as Eventide.

The book combines the author’s passion for Depression era art with that for baseball so there are also appearances by real life players of that sport, including Joe D’Maggio, Babe Ruth and Ernest ‘Bunny’ Taliaferro.  The Gastonia incident, which gives rise to Henry’s breakthrough painting in the book and involved Taliaferro, is also based on historical fact.  There are even walk-on parts for musicians Ella Fitzgerald and Art Tatum.

The subject matter of Henry’s paintings gives the author the opportunity to explore issues of racism and discrimination in 1930s America.  No more so than when Henry’s tutor, Yasuo Kuniyoshi (another real life figure in the New York art scene) becomes the recipient of growing anti-Japanese sentiment as World War 2 approaches. “Pretty ridiculous…this irrational fear of immigrants…in a country built by immigrants.”  Quite.

Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse is an enjoyable lesson in American art history but also the engaging story of a young man attempting to pursue his passion for art whilst at the same time navigating the ups and downs of relationships and family expectations.

My thanks to the author for my digital copy of his book and for his patience in waiting for it to reach the top of my review pile. You can read an extract from Arthur’s latest book, The Caroline Paintings, here.

In three words: Engaging, fascinating, well-researched

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Arthur D HittnerAbout the Author

Arthur D. Hittner is the author of the art-related historical novels, The Caroline Paintings and Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse.

He is also the author of Honus Wagner: The Life of Baseball’s Flying Dutchman (McFarland Publishing, 1996), recipient of the Seymour Medal awarded by the Society for American Baseball Research for the best work of baseball biography or history published during the prior year. He has also written or co-written several art catalogues, a biography and catalogue raisonné on the artist Harold J. Rabinovitz, and articles on American art and artists for national publications including Fine Art Connoisseur, Antiques & Fine Art and Maine Antique Digest.

A retired attorney, Arthur Hittner has served as a trustee of Danforth Art in Framingham, Massachusetts and the Tucson Museum of Art. He was also a co-owner of the Lowell Spinners, a minor league professional baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. Married with two children and three grandchildren, Hittner currently divides his time between Oro Valley, Arizona and Natick, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.

Connect with Arthur
Website | Goodreads