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Excerpt from Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Tiffany Blues

A Novel

by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose X
Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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Excerpt
Tiffany Blues

March 20, 1924
New York, New York


I hadn't expected to find a waterfall in the middle of Central Park. Even there, so far away from home and the scene of the tragedy, the rushing water that pounded on the rocks made me shudder. The waterfalls in Ithaca and in Hamilton had been powerful, beautiful forces of nature, but I'd grown to hate them.

"Jenny, certainly this early-spring scenery is going to inspire you to use some color," Minx said, as we set up our easels.

A dozen of us from Professor Robert Pannell's class at the Art Students League of New York had scattered around the pond, preparing to spend the afternoon painting en plein air in the tradition of the impressionists. We'd walked from the school on West Fifty-seventh Street north into the park and then continued along manicured pathways into this untamed, romantic area.

"Your assignment is not to paint what you see but what you feel. Paint the atmosphere," Professor Pannell instructed. He always pushed us to go beyond convention.

After a half hour, I was still struggling to get something worthwhile down on my canvas. The ceaseless noise of the water falling distracted me and made me anxious.

"So you're not going to use even a little bit of color?" Minx coaxed me. Christened "Millicent," she'd come by her nickname honestly. She had been a hellion growing up—bold, flirtatious, and cunning, much to her parents' chagrin—but she was just beguiling enough to get away with it.

I forced a small smile but didn't proffer an actual answer. I didn't need to. She hadn't really been asking for one but was rather expressing her never-ending surprise at how uninspired I was by the things that moved her so much.

"I know you are fascinated by the shapes of the trees and the negative spaces and patterns they create, but there are colors out there, Jenny. Look at the colors. Winter evergreens and spring's very first buds."

Minx had been questioning my reluctance to use color for months and knew that nothing—not spring or fall or flowers or fabrics—would inspire me. Despite my unchanging black, white, and gray palette, she believed she could help and refused to give up trying. I loved her for that and for her generosity.

She was the daughter of the Deerings, a wealthy shipping scion and a socialite whose fabled family had helped found the Bank of New York. Her parents, Eli and Emily, had spoiled her, and in return, Minx spoiled her friends. All her life, she'd witnessed her father showing his love and his remorse with gifts; for her, then, expressing love meant showering people with her largesse. And as her best friend and flatmate, I was often on the receiving end of her generosity.

Minx's family was wealthy and worldly. She'd grown up in a mansion on Sixty-second Street and Madison Avenue in New York City. The first time she took me home with her for dinner, I'd been awed. Yes, I'd seen opulence in museums, theaters, and government buildings but never in a home where people lived.

The Deerings were also serious art collectors with eclectic tastes. The walls of their mansion were crowded with Renoirs, Manets, Monets, Rembrandts, Titians, and Renaissance drawings. There was even a Leonardo da Vinci sketch done in sepia chalk. Marble stands showcased seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bronzes. Mantels were crowded with bejeweled bibelots from Fabergé, Cartier, and Tiffany. Plants were potted only in majolica. Sofas and chairs upholstered only in silk and damask. There was not a corner that didn't hold a treasure, not a wall that didn't showcase a masterpiece.

"Miss Deering, are you painting your canvas or Miss Bell's?" Professor Pannell called out.

Excerpted from Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose. Copyright © 2018 by M.J. Rose. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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