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The unfinished novel and other stories - Valerie Martin

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The unfinished novel and other stories
Valerie Martin
UK Publication Date

Between what the artist owes the ideal and what the market will bear, there stretches a vast territory of paranoia, poverty and greed. In the six stories that make up The Unfinished Novel, Valerie Martin - bestselling author of Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and the internationally acclaimed Property - turns an unflinching eye upon artists - driven and blocked, desired and detested, infamous and sublime, as they struggle beneath the tyranny of Art to reconcile their audience with their muse.

A painter who owes his small success to a man he despises, discovers that his passivity has cost him the love that might have set him free. An actress struggles with the guilt she still feels twenty years after an affair with a young actor whose promise mysteriously vaporized after a performance of Hamlet. A starving artists inhabits a bleak netherworld, where pride is a luxury no one can afford. A writer of modest talents encounters the old love who once betrayed him; now she repels him, yet the unfinished novel she leaves in his hands may surpass anything he could ever produce himself.

The last stories in the collection take us to Rome and a room with a limited view, and to a Brooklyn studio where a window opens onto limitless space. In the Eternal City an American poet is forced to choose between her lover, a dancer who has outraged academe, and a world so alien it takes her voice away. In the final story, a print maker, who has reached a certain age, enters so deeply into the magical world of her imagination that she can never find her way back.

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Valerie Martin is one of America's finest contemporary novelists, best known for her Orange Prize-winning Property and also the acclaimed Mary Reilly , which was filmed by Stephen Frears. Her most recent novel, her tenth, is The Ghost of the Mary Celeste .

She is the author of three collections of short stories and Salvation , a biography of St Francis.

All the stories here centre on North American characters who define themselves, with varying degrees of success and recognition, as creative artists...They live, love and paint in New York or give poetry readings in Rome. They attend private views, first nights and book launches where the wine is usually cheap and plentiful. The stories concern themselves equally with the creative life and with sexual, romantic or marital relationships...accessible, entertaining, sadly human tales.
TELEGRAPH (4.3.06) - Carol Ann Duffy

In each of the stories in this collection, Martin creates characters as deeply intelligent and as engrossing as those who populate her novels. These are stories that make provocative arguments about art and the moral life...the talent at work here is unmistakable.
TLS (3.3.06) - Deborah Friedell

Weeks after reading, the characters in this collection hover in the mind - jostling for space as if participants in a group exhibition.
TIMES (11.3.06) - Saffron Burrows

Martin's large gift [is] for fiction, that insidiously enters the reader's imagination, and lingers.
NEW STATESMAN (13.3.06) - Nicholas Clee

...His Blue not only as witty as an episode from Sex and the City, it is also a brilliant narrative sleight of hand...Each story in the collection is structured with consummate precision, each voice compellingly rendered.
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (12.3.06) - Lilian Pizzichini

Martin's writing is graceful, controlled and precise...The breadth of Martin's interests is remarkable. She moves around flawlessly in time and space: nothing frightens her.
GUARDIAN (18.3.06) - Fay Weldon

These are skillfully written stories.
SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (19.3.06) - Kate Grimes

Martin is...unpredictable yet compassionate, with a narrative gift that can raise the hairs at the top of the spine.
SUNDAY TIMES (19.3.06) - Maggie Gee

FINANCIAL TIMES MAGAZINE (25.3.06) - Michael Thompson-Noel

...wonderful...Martin has an unflinching understanding of how low people will go in order to create something of beauty...The prose is crisp and concise as paranoia, jealousy and fear of failure stalk these pages.
METRO LONDON (23.3.06) - Tina Jackson

these flash-lit snapshots into the world of the artists are brilliantly exposing.
GOOD BOOK GUIDE (April 2006)

Martin's ear for dialogue is flawless and subtle, and she convincingly captures the yawning cultural chasm between Europe and the United States...At the heart of these wonderful and engaging stories is the artist's ache for greatness, for transcendence. Martin's writing is both unflinching and utterly compelling.
TIME OUT (5-12.4.06) - Nicholas Foxton

her humour is gentle, her style lyrical and observations astute, so that the stories affectionately tease fondly regarded types - which makes for a great read.

Keyword Index
Artists - Fiction.|Authors - Fiction.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages

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