BookBrowse Reviews A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

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A Piece of the World

A Novel

by Christina Baker Kline

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline X
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2017, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2018, 384 pages

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The author of Orphan Train brings to life Andrew Wyeth's famous painting Christina's World

31 out of 41 of our First Impression readers – a full 75% - gave "A Piece of the World" 5-stars, while another nine gave it 4-stars for an exceptional overall rating of 4.7.

A Piece of The World tells the back story of the subject of artist Andrew Wyeth's most famous painting, Christina's World - Christina Olson of rural Cushing, Maine, a severely crippled woman who still leads a brave, productive life. Christina Baker Kline tells her story with compassion and admiration, mirroring the attitude of Wyeth who used Olson and her brother as models in many of his works (Sheila S.). Kline's Christina is strong-willed and determined to be as self-sufficient as her disability will allow. She is often unlikable, but she forms a bond with Andrew Wyeth, who is able to see in her what others don't (Barbara R.). Kline really gives us Christina and her life, her hardships and her wondrous moments (Colleen T).

The novel was fast-paced and drew most in quickly:

I was spellbound from the opening page and did not want to put the book down (Nancy S).  The prologue drew me right in with such beautiful sentences (Sherri M). I raced through the story and enjoyed every moment (Esther L).

Many readers mentioned the beauty of Kline's narrative:  

Kline excels at giving the reader a sense of place and time (Karna B). The writing is exquisite, each word considered, each vision portrayed with care (Mary P). I felt like I could breathe the Maine air and hear the waves crashing while reading (Carol R). I was immediately swept away into the lush, coastal farm Maine landscape (Barbara H). The writing is so beautiful, impactful and wise. I often re-read sentences and paragraphs to savor the language. Moving, even haunting at times (Sylvia G). With delicate palette, stark images, sharp tones and loving care, the author has written this novel the way Andrew Wyeth painted the canvas (John O).

Others remarked on the quality of Kline's characterization:

Christina Baker Cline has a true talent as an author, she breathes life into her characters (Kristen H). Through [her] prose we feel the loneliness of Christina and the despair and worry of Andrew, who is trying to come to terms with his desire to produce great art, and to stay true to his vision (Terye B). I was so entwined in the lives of many of the family and friends of Christina, as each and every character offered their own perspectives on how she should live her life (Donna W). Andrew Wyeth, his wife Betsy and Christina become three dimensional and more than just historical characters. The empathy she shows them made it all the more real for me (Susan B).

A few felt the book was difficult emotionally:

I think the best word to describe the book is melancholy, as I found it to be quite sad and depressing (Nancy K). Christina steals your heart, makes you frustrated with her stubbornness - weeping at times for her losses (Ann S).

... but most fell in love with it:

Every now and then I come across a book that I would call a "jewel novel." A Piece of the World falls into that category. I enjoyed it thoroughly (Kathrin C).  This biographical novel deserves a 6 rating, for excellence (Mary P). I cannot recommend it highly enough (Susan B).  Another masterpiece (John O).

Enthusiastically recommended for historical fiction lovers and book clubs:

I highly recommend adding A Piece of the World to the must-read list of avid readers of historical fiction, and especially to book clubs. Discussion topics abound! (Carolyn G) Highly recommended...excellent book club choice (Beverly D). Book clubs could discuss the reasons behind the various choices made by the main characters throughout their lives (Jean G). I will definitely recommend it to my very well-read book group (Carol R).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2017, and has been updated for the February 2018 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Christina's World

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