A #HistoricalMondays blog tour | feat. “The Artist Colony” by Joanna FitzPatrick

Posted Monday, 20 September, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Artist Colony” from the publisher She Writes Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: Once upon a time, I was a reviewer with SparkPress and their imprints as well as a participant in their Summer reading challenges. However, quite a few of those selections I had made in the past ended up on my backlogue of reviews; due to different adversities afflicting during those years – from my chronic migraines and other health ailments as well as my father’s recovery years from his moderate bilateral stroke in late 2016. Each year I grow closer to reading my backlogue – yet, despite falling behind on those reads, I’ve never lost my affinity of appreciation for SparkPress as a publisher or for She Writes Press. A few times since those years, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting their authors again and it isn’t something I take for granted. It is an honour and I love how they focus on stories which are inventively invigorating to be read as much as they stimulate conversation and carry forward a light for inspiring deeper readings and keenly intuitive thinkers.

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On what drew my curious eye towards this novel:

Admittedly, this hasn’t been the best readerly year for me as a Historical Fiction reader. Each year, I try to chronicle my readings into the Historical past through the historical reading challenge hosted every year by Amy @ Passages to the Past (also the wicked awesome owner of HFVBTs!) – yet, this particular year, I’ve written more preview stylised posts (ie. #My25PagePreview) than I have longer reviews. Partially, it was a timing issue for me and yet, some of it seemed like 2021 was just a harder won year than 2020 which in all actuality seems a bit impressive to say considering what the former year was like to live through. Laughter aside, as soon as I learnt about the back-history about the artist cottage and how the cottage in Carmel was linked to the author – it felt like such an introspective kind of read.

I used to study art when I was younger and art has languished in my life for a few decades off/on now. I’d love to find a keenly approachable teacher to help me find my muse again when it comes to drawing as I’d love to pursue watercolours eventually – however, my main pursuit and passion of the past several years (err, a bit longer than that) has been knitting. With a new yarn destination closer than previous years, there is a strong chance I’ll be back at the needles before Autumn grips my weather patterns! And, wouldn’t that be a treasured blessing!? However, until then, I still think about traditional art mediums and how wonderful it would be to have a place to focus on art for the sake of discovering not just want moves me as an artist but what inspires me, too. It is a bit why I have always loved pursuing photography – you just have to step out your door and you’ll find inspiration. Photography was something I could maintain throughout my life and I’m blessed for it. Whereas art, in the more traditional sense backslid a bit and became out of focus.

I’m also one part of my family’s ancestral sleuths team – wherein, I inherited a love of Biographical Fiction stories from my Mum. She has a fierce passion for Non-Fiction in regards to Biographical & Autobiographical stories, but for me, I struggled to lock my mind round those selections. Until I tapped into a niche corner of Historical Fiction and found stories which are either directly derived from a person’s actual lived life OR they are an impression of that life wherein liberties were taken to fill in the missing gaps of their known histories. Both are appreciated by curious mind and I love seeing how authors tackle their subjects and how they extend the lives of the persons once lived.

On that note, I liked how The Artist Colony was first inspired by Fitzpatrick’s Great-Aunt Ada Belle and from that forethought on inspiration – came the story we’re all reading today. It is also a curious antidote of how to pierce together familiar history and enfold a relative of ours into a bit of an expansive story which can chart its own course; either following the line of history for that person or taking a new kind of trajectory which is befitting of the story as it became untangled into the pages it now lives upon. It gives me food for thought every time I see an author utilising this technique and perhaps one day, it might lay down a foundation of a story drawn out of my own living tree of ancestral roots. Until then, I chase after the historical past every which way to Sunday as it is such an intriguing place to revisit time after time, as each story is its own unique portal towards seeing History through a new pair of lens.

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A #HistoricalMondays blog tour | feat. “The Artist Colony” by Joanna FitzPatrickThe Artist Colony
by Joanna FitzPatrick
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Paris, July, 1924…

Sarah, a young Modernist painter, receives a cable from California. Her estranged older sister, Ada Belle, has died under suspicious circumstances. When she arrives two weeks later at San Francisco’s Union Station, Sarah is confronted by a newspaper headline: “Inquest Verdict: Artist Commits Suicide.”

Sarah remembers the last haunting words Ada Belle said to her: “Ars longa, vita brevis: Art is long, life is short.” But Ada Belle’s work is selling, and her upcoming exhibition of portraitures would bring her even wider recognition. Why would she kill herself? Sarah’s quest to find the truth of what happened to Ada Belle leads her to join the bucolic artist colony to look for clues. As she delves into her sister’s underworld, tensions surface. The darker things get, the closer she comes to terrible danger. How far will a killer go before he kills again?

Genres: Crime Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1647421694

Published by She Writes Press

on 7th September, 2021

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 328

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Published By: She Writes Press (@shewritespress)
in conjunction with SparkPress (@SparkPress)
an imprint of Spark Points Studio LLC GoSparkPoint (@GoSparkPoint)
& BookSparks

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov or #HistoricalFiction
+ #TheArtistColony and #HFVBT

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Joanna FitzPatrick

Joanna FitzPatrick

Joanna FitzPatrick was born and raised in Hollywood. She started her writing habit by applying her orange fountain pen and a wild imagination to screenplays, which led her early on to produce the film White Lilacs and Pink Champagne. At Sarah Lawrence College, she wrote her MFA thesis Sha La La: Live for Today about her life as a rock ’n’ roll star’s wife. Her more recent work includes two novels, Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow. The Artist Colony is her third book. Presently, FitzPatrick divides her time between a mountaintop cottage in Northern California and a small hameau in Southern France where she begins all her book projects.

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prior to reading the story:

I had a chance to revisit the story behind the inspiration and starting off point for The Artist Colony wherein FitzPatrick took us inside her journey back to Carmel and in search of Great-Aunt Ada Belle’s art cottage. It was one of those lovely adventures wherein you can chase after the past and catch a glimpse of it from the corners of where the past intersects with the present. The fact she was able to find the woman who currently lives in Ada Belle’s cottage so dearly agreeable and open to the history of the cottage was wicked fantastic! I admit, I wished I could have overheard bits and bobbles of their conversations – the back-story only takes us so far forward into their budding friendship as of course this is serving as an opener for what sparked the motivation to write the story itself. And, yet, I hungered for more – a bit more insight and a bit more information – not just about their own friendship but what did they discuss? And, how did those conversations evolve towards a path towards The Artist Colony?

my review of the artist colony:

You cannot help but feel evocatively pulled into the throes of The Artist Colony on the footfalls of Sarah, whom to her credit, is awash in emotions having learnt of her sister’s untimely death. Ada Belle in this story has had a shorter life than expected and it is Sarah who was summoned to the States from her artist life in Paris to sort out the details of Ada’s passing. The words and expressive narrative FitzPatrick used to conceive of this visceral image for us as readers is quite precise and it allows us a bit more depth to see Sarah at this point in her life than if she hadn’t included her internal thoughts as well. It was fittingly real – to see how Sarah wanted to be there for her sister but also, regretted the position it placed her in as well.

As we relived the last time Sarah had spoken to Ada, we observe her state of mind and her insistence in having her sister in charge of her estate. The tone Ada gave off though seemed to stem from an emotional place not yet revealled. She had more reasons for placing Sarah in this position than she was letting on but as Sarah hadn’t pressed her for disclosing more information, it was hard to understand what truly was motivating Ada. And, yet, it almost seemed like she had succumbed to the idea already – that her time to create art had sadly passed and the only thing left to do was to ensure its presence in the world of art to be secured by a trusted guardian; such as Sarah. However, in the background of this narrative is the more insecure world of critics – especially of how men eschewed their right to speak their minds at all the wrong times. This was seen in how they reflected upon Ada’s life and how they chose to see the rightful path they felt women should take rather than pursue an industry outside the home. That kind of passive aggression is inclusive of most of History and is not limited to women in the art field, sadly. I felt FitzPatrick broached that insidious part of History quite well as much as she showcased the differences in classes and who was in service to whom.

Finding out the fuller story behind how their parents died was a sombering entry into what fortified the sisters together and how they had to find strength out of absolute tragedy. It was the strength of Ada though which I knew allowed them to find the skills to survive; she had to intervene at such a young age to ensure they would both survive; the pressure she must’ve felt would have been quite intense. And, yet, as you learnt what she did with her life afterwards, it was harder to reconcile how she had died – at least on the surface of it all. Which led me back to think musefully about her words to Sarah – about how she wanted someone to protect her legacy and how she wanted to be watched over after death. Almost as if she had a premonition about what would befall herself and she was trying to tie up the loose ends ahead of time.

Sarah is finding her feet in Carmel but with a regretful remorse about the hours she lost to have with her sister Ada. Everyone has a different opinion too, about Ada – how she lived her life, how she might have died and especially curious, they all seemed to want to know what Sarah was going to do now that she was betwixt and between her own life, too. They barely gave her a chance to grieve properly and even then, I had a feeling they were expecting more from her than she might be willing to give and of course, the same thought came to me about Ada, too. Was there something expected of Ada and was that something she had chosen to keep to herself or to hide from the world? There was so much supposition about her death and how she died, you almost chase into shadows before you can see where the truth was whispering out.

As Sarah chased after ghosts of the past and tried to re-trace her sisters’ passageways during life – she found a darker side of her sister’s life which was afflicting jeopardy into her own. Sarah wanted the truth about what happened to her sister but at what cost!? She would make new friends with those who were in Carmel at the time she was sorting out the last days of Ada’s life – but there were other things happening in Carmel which gave me pause as I read the story. This was ahead of the second world war and of course, having read How Much Do You Love Me? I knew more of the story behind the Japanese internment camps than I ever had previously. It was interesting there was a connection to that part of History inside this novel as well.

Throughout the novel, your heart is breaking a bit more for Ada and for Sarah; for the hours they lost to just be ‘sisters’ and the hours lost from creating art together. They both lived their lives fiercely independently but it was Sarah who had to unearth the injustice of how Ada had died and the circumstances which had surrounded her death as well. I felt FitzPatrick had written a compelling thesis to explore about Ada but also, how she allowed Sarah to take on her own sense of self and let us take-on her journey of both freeing the past from its secrets and of restoring the legacy of Ada, too.

on the historical & suspenseful styling of joanna fitzpatrick:

I truly love any writer who can wholly suspend time for me as a reader and cart me off into the historical past as if I were living it behind their character(s). And, for me FitzPatrick achieved this very early-on within the pages of The Artist Colony. She has a particular style of narrative I find lovely as well. It is an interpersonal perspective of diving straight into the heart of what a character is thinking/feeling whilst it also offers a rotating lens of perspective of what is happening in/out of scene, too. It gives you a strong presentation of what she wants you to see but also, gives you a chance to see what she might want to keep removed from your purview, too.

I enjoyed the volleying between Sarah and Ada; as we get to know both women in equal intervals of interest. First, it was through the memories of Sarah herself – short reflections of Ada or whole conversations, which tucked us closer to the sisters and what was happening in their lives whilst it gave us a lot of questions, too. Especially how despite both being artists in their own rights, they each approached how to live and function as artists quite differently. Ada liked to go her own way and re-set the tides in the art world itself – especially if it meant bringing down the prejudices of gender and of artist identity. I had a feeling Sarah was a bit more passive in that regard. And, yet, it was all perfectly balanced and inclusive through how FitzPatrick chose to tell their story.

She expertly drew us into the artist colony in Carmel – how approachable the artists are themselves and how inclusive of a community it is to become a part of as an outsider, such as Sarah had found, too. It was almost like a secreted community which had its own share of rules and of course, enough secrets to tell tales for years.

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Whilst reading The Artist Colony, I was inspired to spin a new playlist via #Spotify which is called: “The New Retro”. It is hard to pin down the kind of music you’ll find on this playlist but the soulful renderings of the artists and the lyrics themselves blend well into the novel as much as I found them separately inspiring and a huge uplift to be heard as well. This is another random pairing of music and literature I was able to capture due to Spotify and I am grateful to be able to stream music in my ears whilst reading which isn’t co-dependent on a radio station’s influence but rather artist/musician and genre of music focused to where we can intuit how/when to listen to which styling of music which appears to us as a listener vs listening round another person’s choices of influence. This playlist fast became a favourite and I think you’d love it yourself if you love soul, indie rock and a retro appreciation for music in the mid-20th Century.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Follow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating: along the route

& learn about the bookaway attached to the tour:

The Artist Colony blog tour banner provided by HFVBTs and is used with permission.

You’ll notice a change in tour date on the schedule for my review stop – I succumbed to clustering migraines which plagued me for a fortnight this September. Considering last year, when I was griped by 8x migraines this same month, I am counting my blessings. I was beyond consumed by them, as well as a nasty mix of allergies which disallowed me to read this novel as I had projected to share my ruminations as scheduled originally on the blog tour. I felt bad for the author to have my reactions delayed as much as I regretted missing my original date on the tour itself. I needed time to recover, rest and re-find the joy of reading again – as per my chronic migraines, they first disrupt my life but the road back to any kind of normalcy is sometimes quite arduous in of itself. This past weekend was healing in that regard as it allowed my eyes and mind time to resync together and gave me hours of joy being able to re-settle into reading and blogging once more. Ergo, my apologies extend to the publisher, to Ms Bruno and to everyone following the tour, too.

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to my 2021 reading challenges:

2021 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Artist Colony”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Joanna Fitzpatrick the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner, Book Review banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 20 September, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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