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The Pelton Papers: Book summary and reviews of The Pelton Papers by Mari Coates

The Pelton Papers

by Mari Coates

The Pelton Papers by Mari Coates X
The Pelton Papers by Mari Coates
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2020
    328 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

A richly imagined novel based on the life of artist Agnes Pelton, whose life tracks the early days of modernism in America.

Born into a family ruined by scandal, Agnes becomes part of the lively New York art scene, finding early success in the famous Armory Show of 1913. Fame seems inevitable, but Agnes is burdened by shyness and instead retreats to a contemplative life, first to a Long Island windmill, and then to the California desert. Undefeated by her history—family ruination in the Beecher-Tilton scandal, a shrouded Brooklyn childhood, and a passionate attachment to another woman—she follows her muse to create more than a hundred luminous and deeply spiritual abstract paintings.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Coates draws Agnes' character with care, depicting her as longing for success and acceptance in the art world but also craving solitude...An in-depth, highly personal portrait of a remarkable talent." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This captivating story of suppressed sexuality and finding satisfaction through making art offers subtle observations and moments of deep feeling. Coates brilliantly captures the creative eye of an unassuming, uniquely talented artist." - Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully written imagining of the intimate world of artist Agnes Pelton, whose spirit and under-appreciated work Mari Coates brings back to life." - Peg Alford Pursell, author of A Girl Goes into the Forest

"Beautifully lucid, calm, and radiant, this lovely novel illuminates what it really means to shape a life around the making of art. To rise, having been disappointed. To rise, again and again." - Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Archangel

"A luminous portrait of a woman with remarkable artistic talent, courage, and wisdom. Agnes Pelton grapples with the devastating consequences of a family scandal and her own secret passions during the tumultuous early twentieth century in America, when women had not yet won the right to vote. Beautifully written, the book is not only a feast for the senses but also a profound meditation on the creative process and the regenerative power of art." - Helen Fremont, author of The Escape Artist and After Long Silence

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Author Information

Mari Coates

Mari Coates lives in San Francisco, where, before embarking on fiction writing, she was an arts writer and the theater critic for the SF Weekly. She holds degrees from Connecticut College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

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