Summary and book reviews of Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones

Paint Your Wife

by Lloyd Jones

Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones X
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
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    Mar 2016, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Claire McAlpine

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Book Summary

Paint Your Wife is a colorful, sensual novel, brimming with rich stories and even richer characters.

Long ago, when the men were away at the war, Alma began painting the women of the town. They sat for him in lieu of payment for his work catching rats. Alice, his favorite, returned his attentions. When her husband George came home from the war, he set out to prove his love and reclaim his wife by moving a hill - wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow - for her.

Decades later the townspeople, looking to escape various corners of despair, turn to drawing classes. For when you draw, the only thing that matters is what lies before you.

1

I've been visiting our son Adrian in London. He is a year or two older than I was the first time I flew there, dropping out of the clouds, glancing down at the storybook burst of Westminster and the serpentine crawl of the Thames. This time around it's been ten days of lounging about, filling in time reading the newspapers, musing on the crazy things that happen out there in the world. Hungry car thieves in Sao Paulo mistake AIDS-infected blood for raspberry jelly. That sort of thing. I was enjoying myself and London was big and scrambling. I showed up in the shop windows as a smiling amiable fellow, someone I hardly ever am at home. There were the same row houses in their grainy white that captured my interest more than twenty years ago as a newly graduated paint technician. London seemed to be painted in the colours of mist. The contrast with home was striking. Our houses were like bright coloured marbles let loose over the plain, shining down from hillsides, beaming up ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The writing reminded me a lot of Anne Tyler's – it will be enjoyed by fans of domestic, community drama, but made all the more fascinating and unique because its observations are from within the male perspective. There are a scattering of insightful references to great painters whose wives or lovers were their subjects: most notably Pierre Bonnard, the French artist who painted almost exclusively from memory; and also Rembrandt, Cézanne, Matisse and Chagall.   (Reviewed by Claire McAlpine).

Full Review (831 words).

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Media Reviews

BookMooch
A delightful read, moving and uplifting, and loaded with gorgeous prose...Highly recommended.

The Guardian (UK)
Jones is a daring writer who can be relied on to ignore expectation, and is becoming one of the most interesting, honest and thought-provoking novelists working today.

Library Journal
An entertaining meditation on how humans liberate objects from their primary function and regenerate independence with respect to their past.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Jones' deep affection for his characters and the light, anecdotal touch with which he nudges them away from despair makes for a warm and original entertainment.

The Age (Australia)
A gentle, whimsical book ... Jones's writing is easy and sophisticated, reminding me of Steinbeck at his humorous best ... the whole fanciful sprawl is a delight.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

a delightful read
“When you are drawing you are actually learning how to see. You do this through looking. Looking is untarnished glass. No green bits of judgement hanging from the lens. In order to draw you must to learn to see how things are – not how you wish they ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Artists Who Painted Their Wives

In Paint Your Wife, Alma Martin, though just thirty and physically healthy, was left behind while other fit men went to war. The loss of both his young wife and some of his memory in a train accident had rendered him "a less-than dangerous male. A male without horns." During his rehabilitation, he began to draw. Art became his obsession; his way to recreate what he had lost and help others to see what they had. As a character says of Alma: "My mother has an interesting thesis. She believes Alma decided to build a picture of his late wife from the bits and pieces of the women in the district that caught his eye."

Marthe de MelignyThe tragic death of his wife and dissipation of memory justify Alma's admiration of, and frequent references to, the French ...

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