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Nightshade: Book summary and reviews of Nightshade by Annalena McAfee

Nightshade

by Annalena McAfee

Nightshade by Annalena McAfee X
Nightshade by Annalena McAfee
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2020
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A lean, taut novel about an artist--a painter--at the height of her career, about the art world, about love, fidelity, fame, betrayal, and the large choices and prices paid in the quest for art for art's sake. By the much-admired author of The Spoiler ("cutting wit and razor-sharp writing" - NYTBR; "a dark, sparkly gem of a book" - Christopher Buckley) and Hame ("I couldn't put it down" - Patrick McGrath).

Eve Laing, celebrated artist, once the muse of legendary painter and "monstre sacré" Florian Kiš, is a photorealist painter of flowers at the peak of her career, with her work in international galleries and museums.

Now Eve is embarking on her most ambitious work to date--seven enormous, elaborate panels of the world's deadliest plants. In psychic preparation, she has taken a wrecking ball to her opulent high-wire life, jettisoning her marriage for a beautiful young lover, a drifter half her age, who seems to share her single-minded artistic vision. As the novel opens out, Eve is on a late-night walk through London, setting out from her former family home in the well-heeled west of the city, back to her studio, a converted factory in the grittier east, where her recently completed masterpiece hangs and where a fatal reckoning may await...Eve makes her way through the city and reflects on her life today and as it was years ago, and considers the large choices she has made and their repercussions.

As she walks, she summons up her wild art college days in London; her New York years as a tyro artist; her vicious rivalry with her college roommate, now a celebrated figure on the international conceptual art scene whose full-blown success and recognition still infuriates and rankles Eve's sense of rightness with the world. And as she weighs what's been gained and what's been lost in pursuit of her art, a sense of dread settles over her, one she cannot shake, and as Nightshade moves to its dark, shocking end, it explores large questions--about ambition...artistic truth...betrayal...about bad people making good art...about the consequences of fame...and the devastating price of love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Eve isn't meant to be likable—McAfee's whip-smart text implicitly makes the point that no one objects to male artists being selfish and unkind—but she's desperately human...A brilliant character study encased in a gripping plot with a fabulous final twist." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[C]austically entertaining...Eve's obsessive self-absorption and ambition make this a pleasing investigation of the limits of artistic influence." - Publishers Weekly

"McAfee's prose is lyrical yet sharp, and her descriptions of both the method and the intricately researched work itself are superbly convincing...The ending is simultaneously overdramatic and yet vastly satisfying." - The Guardian

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Author Information

Annalena McAfee

Annalena McAfee was born in London and was educated at Essex University. She is the author of Hame and The Spoiler. McAfee worked in newspapers for more than three decades. She was arts and literary editor of the Financial Times and founded the Guardian Review, which she edited for six years. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, the writer Ian McEwan.

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