The Love Artist: A Novel

loveartistThe Love Artist: A Novel
by Jane Alison
2002/222 pages
Rating:  5 (out of 10)  /fantasy romance set in the past

I’m taking the Coursera class in Historical Fiction and this is one of the highlighted books.  I’m going to try to get to some of the other recommended books in the upcoming couple months.

With The Love Artist Alison has used a wonderfully lush writing style,  especially when it comes to the flora and the fauna of Greece.  Her descriptions of the islands and sea routes was a marvel.  Unfortunately the often purply turgid prose frequently interferes with comprehension.   The few historical parts interested me,  but as I closed in around the romance/love/erotic and magic parts I’m inclined to skim.

Ovid was an Roman poet known for his love/erotic poetry.  He was possibly exiled to Tomis by Caesar Augustus in about 8 AD,  but we only have his own word for that.    There he continued to write.

This is the story of  how he got himself exiled in the first place.  How he met a strange magical woman named Xenia on a prior journey,  brought her to Rome and started writing about her.  Ovid’s big desire was to be remembered – Xenia,  the witch,  could possibly help him with that or foresee it.  But then he started seeing Julia,  Augustus’ granddaughter,  who had a little revenge scheme of her own going.  And Xenia has a few extra tricks up her sleeve.

This is certainly make-believe history as far as I know,  but it might make a good story for someone who likes romance and horror.  It’s pretty good writing with different tones building and easing and appropriate metaphors swirling around the main plots and themes.

Other historical references in this book include:

2 Responses to The Love Artist: A Novel

  1. Alex says:

    I found the style rather cloying, Becky, I have to say and there were one or two historical inaccuracies that niggled as well. I finished it this afternoon and I have to say that I did wonder if it had been chosen because she was available to come and work with the students rather than because of its virtues as a piece of literature.


  2. I know exactly what you mean – the prose got a tad purply turgid sometimes, to the point of actually interfering with comprehension. And yes, Alison absolutely did take enormous liberties with the “history.” She acknowledged that in the last sentence of the acknowledgements. If I knew more about Ovid or this period of history I would probably be more upset than I am. Does “telling a good story” constitute an authorial “agenda?” I don’t know. As it is my opinion of this book is that it’s more “historical romance” than anything and I’m seriously not fond of the genre. I’m going to revise my rating area.


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