Review: The Great Man

Kate Christensen, author of ‘The Great Man’, is only the fifth woman to win the Pen Faulker Award.

From the Pen Faulker website:
Pen Faulkner was founded by writers in 1980, and named for William Faulkner, who used his Nobel Prize funds to create an award for young writers, and PEN, the international writers’ organization, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation brings together American writers and readers in a wide variety of programs to promote a love of literature.

I haven’t been able to find much on the author’s background but did find a few articles worth sharing. There is a wonderful conversation with Kate Christensen on her webpage with Random House, which discusses the novel in great detail. NPR also has an article and an audio clip interview.

This novel grabs you quickly and is told mostly with dialog, a quick read. I was so interested to read this book – a refreshing new storyline!

The story is entertaining and centers around two women whom both had families with a famous painter, a wife and a mistress. The story starts five years after Oscar’s death when two biographers are looking to write Oscar’s story. The women’s mannerisms differ for each biographer and what unfolds to the reader is a full account of the life these families lived. There is no love lost – you will enjoy this story and there is a lot to discuss if you choose to read this for a book club selection.

You can find a reader’s guide on the author’s site.
BWAV rating of this book: 3 stars
Type: Fiction, 320 pages, Trade paperback

Oscar Feldman, the renowned figurative painter, has passed away. As his obituary notes, Oscar is survived by his wife, Abigail, their son, Ethan, and his sister, the well-known abstract painter Maxine Feldman. What the obituary does not note, however, is that Oscar is also survived by his longtime mistress, Teddy St. Cloud, and their daughters.

As two biographers interview the women in an attempt to set the record straight, the open secret of his affair reaches a boiling point and a devastating skeleton threatens to come to light. From the acclaimed author of The Epicure's Lament, a scintillating novel of secrets, love, and legacy in the New York art world.

"Mischievous...funny, astute.... As unexpectedly generous as it is entertaining.... Christensen is a witty observer of the art universe." —The New York Times"

Christensen's writing is clear-eyed, muscular, bitingly funny, and supremely caustic about the niceities of social relations, contemporary American culture, and sexual politics. " — O, The Oprah Magazine

"These characteres are wonderfully developed and break the stereotype of the aging female protagonist. Christensen...boldly has raised the bar." — USA Today