A Piece of the World


I’ve just ordered this long awaited book and can’t wait to read it not just because it’s by an author whose works I enjoy but because it’s about people and place quite familiar to me.

Olson HouseThe piece of the world the title refers to is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  It is a place I’ve visited many times and am intrigued by its stories.

christinas_world-e1380208783741The main character of Kline’s novel is Christina Olson who shared the house with her brother Alvaro.  She was a simple woman crippled by a then undiagnosed disease.  She was made famous by her friend Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World which hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  It was her many viewings of this painting and her visits to the Olson House that inspired Kline to write A Piece of the World.

Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the author talk about the inspiration for her novel which is not just about place but about a woman’s perseverance, independence and strength.  At the same time Christina Olson possessed these qualities, there was a vulnerability about her.  Inspired by the painting, Kline spent several years researching the Olsons and their 30 year relationship with Wyeth.  As history unfolded, she began to appreciate that it was likely Wyeth found something of himself in Christina.  

As I listened to Kline discuss the underlying mystery  and the influence of the rural landscape found in Wyeth’s painting, I began thinking about the power of visual art and how many ways it gives birth to another art form.  Certainly, this is true for the author whose name she shares with her subject.  I suspect that if one knew Christina Baker Kline, one would find, like with Wyeth, something shared with Christina.

What I would really like to know is how Christina felt when she saw herself as portrayed by Wyeth and how she would respond to being subject of Kline’s book.  That is the part of her story we may never know.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

26 thoughts on “A Piece of the World

  1. I just finished reading A Piece of the World and did some Googling to see the paintings and images of the people. I tripped across your blog and I’m so glad I did. The book was a hard one to read, but I finished it in two days. If I ever get back to Maine again I want to visit this house. Thanks for posting and sharing your thoughts and photos.

    1. I enjoyed the book because of my familiarity with the subject. You would enjoy visiting the Olson House which makes Christina, Alvaro and Andrew Wyeth become living beings.

  2. This house….I have been intrigued by it for years…the first time when it was purchased by someone in the movie industry and we stumbled upon it then….and have been several times since then. Andrew Wyeth is a favorite and that section of Maine is as well. The book also sounds interesting and I may have to check it out.

    1. Folks in Cushing weren’t real happy with the traffic brought in by the Hollywood connection.

  3. I have seen some of Andrew Wyeth paintings, always feel that his paintings tell stories, especially the paintings from inside of the farm windows/doors. Thank you, Linda for sharing what you have heard from the speech.

  4. Thanks to your great post and the comments, this book is on my list! Thank you!

  5. That is surely a place I would love to visit and feel the history surrounding it. Thanks for sharing it again! Tina

    1. Every time I go to the Olson House I learn/feel something new.

  6. It’s great how art can inspire other art to happen. This book sounds a bit eerie for my taste but I want to read it at the same time.

    1. Kline is such a good writer that is should be a worthy read.

  7. We visit the Olson house several times each summer. Very inspiring stories.

  8. I’ve always liked Andrew Wyeth paintings. It’s wonderful to know that one of them inspired a book.

  9. Andrew Wyeth, one of my favorites…thanks so much for a thoughtful presentation of the book on Christina Olson and her world.

    1. The Olsons and their home provided fodder for many Wyeth paintings.

  10. Now this is a book that I think I could enjoy!!!…I do not have time for much reading, but I think I would enjoy this one!…love the story line!

    1. As busy as you are redoing, I can see why you don’t have much extra time.

  11. frenchgardenhouse March 6, 2017 — 10:18 am

    Thank you so much for this post, I am going to order this book and will relish reading it, I’m sure! It’s true that art always opens up windows…even decades later. Can’t wait to learn more of the story! Lidy

    1. I hope it is as good as I think it will be. We’ll have to compare.

  12. Fascinating, and you are the second blogger friend of mine to talk about this book…

  13. Linda, this is all very interesting to me, especially since you are so familiar with the place!

  14. Thanks for the brief history regarding the book. I had just noticed it in the list of new books earlier when I was searching for something to check out on my tablet. I quickly went back to the library site to place a hold for it. Hopefully the 3 before me are fast readers 🤗 !!!

  15. Cheryl Fortune March 5, 2017 — 5:45 pm

    I already commented on having read this book. I don’t believe the author represented the reality of the house and farm as well as your photo. Your blog gave me a more accurate view. We own some Wyeth prints and I have always seen him as representing NEW ENGLAND history.

  16. Cheryl Fortune March 5, 2017 — 4:17 pm

    I read this book in 2 days. I found it a bleak world, devoid of hope and connections. That she remained undiagnosed was a crime.
    Makes that painting more meaningful. Would not recommend it to my Bookclub.

    1. At the time there seemed to be no correct diagnosis for her condition and she was s proud woman who for a long time refused any helpful apparatus. From what I know, all was not bleak.

      1. Cheryl Fortune March 5, 2017 — 5:47 pm

        It seems as her condition was inherited. It was bleak! That family folded away from life. The farm became a prison. ( to me)
        My Bookclub ( you know two members) would dislike this book.
        I relished this new peek into WYETH

      2. You’ve certainly whetted my interest.

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