Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Underpainter

The UnderpainterThe Underpainter by Jane Urquhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"But how crowded and unfocused this looking back is; all these foreign fields, the battles, this china collection. Views of rocks and trees, hills and streams. I scarcely know which images are mine and which have been taken by me, fully developed, from the others, or whether there is, in the final analysis, any difference.” (p. 217)
This is a novel about a life not lived. The narrator Austin Fraser has spent his life creating art and pushing away all human connections and now he is looking back upon what he has done. He reminded me of the Buchanans in Great Gatsby.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” ― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby
This is a beautifully written but incredibly sad novel. The book is largely about Canadians, but the narrator is an American which gives the observations of Canada a distance they wouldn't have if the narrator was part of what he was telling us about. The sections about WWI were particularly interesting in their point-of-view. I knew that Canada fought in the war from the beginning, but hadn't really thought about it in the way Urquhart forces you to. 
I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge.

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