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I Always Loved You: A Novel Hardcover – February 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670785792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670785797
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Oliveira follows her best-selling historical fiction debut, My Name Is Mary Sutter (2010), with a novel based on the life of the “formidable” American painter Mary Cassatt. Cassatt insists on living in Paris among the impressionists, so her concerned parents and loving sister join her there and are soon baffled by Cassatt’s tempestuous interactions with her mercurial mentor, Edgar Degas. The true nature of their relationship remains open to interpretation, an opportunity Oliveira seizes with passionate and electrifying empathy for both artists. As she vividly renders 1870s Paris and its gossipy enclave of radical artists, including the painfully entangled Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet (who is suffering horribly from syphilis), Oliveira contrasts irascible Degas and his freedom to go anywhere his omnivorous eye leads him (even as his eyesight fails) and steely Cassatt, who as a woman is forced to find inspiration in domesticity, painting incisive portraits of mothers and children as she forgoes marriage and motherhood. Emulating the powers of observation and expression possessed by the artists she so vividly and sensitively fictionalizes, Oliveira illuminates with piercing insight the churning psyches of her living-on-the-edge characters. This is a historically and aesthetically rich, complexly involving, and forthrightly sorrowful novel of the perilous, exhilarating, and world-changing lives of visionary artists breaking new ground and each other’s hearts. --Donna Seaman

Review

“In smart and supple prose….Oliveira’s lively work illuminates these ambitious artists and rings true in the way the best fiction can.”—The Seattle Times

“[This] book is accomplished and well-researched….Although sometimes [Degas and Cassatt] are completely alienated, they remain linked through their art and love.”—Kirkus

“[Oliveira]’s illuminating portrayals of the inner lives of artists—Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet—are beautifully colored and as richly detailed as the paintings for which they are celebrated.”—The Chicago Tribune

“Oliveira has woven a rich tapestry of the artists’s life in Bell Époque Paris, in a close, intimate rendering.”—Library Journal

“Emulating the powers of observation and expression possessed by the artists she so vividly and sensitively fictionalizes, Oliveira illuminates with piercing insight the churning psyches of her living-on-the-edge characters. This is a historically and aesthetically rich, complexly involving, and forthrightly sorrowful novel of the perilous, exhilarating, and world-changing lives of visionary artists breaking new ground and each other’s hearts.”—Booklist


Praise for My Name Is Mary Sutter

 “Think of Mary Sutter as a northern Scarlett O’Hara without the man-killer good looks or feminine wiles; more a Louisa May Alcott Plain Jane with a will of scalpel-sharp steel…Oliveira… peels back Mary’s vulnerable, human side in this intriguing slice of Civil War history.” – USA Today
 
 “The title of Robin Oliveira’s debut historical novel, My Name Is Mary Sutter, perfectly evokes its eponymous heroine’s style: clear, determined, and, unlike most women of the Civil War era, unapologetically direct.” – O, The Oprah Magazine 
  
“This work of fiction is built on years of research. The payoff comes in the rich details of this feminist story, which follows a young midwife from her upstate New York home to battlefields of the South as she pursues her ambition to become a surgeon…more than a dozen women who went into the Civil War as nurses did indeed emerge as physicians. “My Name Is Mary Sutter” give an idea of the immense sacrifices these women made in terms of social acceptance, close relationships and personal health.” – The Seattle Times 
  
“At the center of Robin Oliveira’s enthralling and well-researched debut novel is an ambitious young woman who refuses to accept the limited roles women played in the field of medicine during the mid-19th century…With war as her canvas, Oliveira captures the campgrounds and battlefields of Virginia as vividly as the scenes of Mary’s midwifing, and the book’s sensuous language, wealth of period details, and unflinching descriptions of battles like Manassas and Antietam place it solidly in the ranks of the best historical fiction. [A] Believable, nuanced…sweeping portrait…Absorbing drama about a little-known side of the Civil War.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 
 
“[A] riveting saga about trying to break a 19th-century glass ceiling.” – Good Housekeeping 

My Name Is Mary Sutter is a riveting, well-researched novel about a young nurse during the Civil War. The incredibly vivid details and well-drawn characters create a story that resonates long after the last page is turned.” – Family Circle 

“Oliveira’s compelling voice…does a splendid job of reminding us how much the known world has changed—and how much has not.” – Portland Oregonian 
 
My Name Is Mary Sutter now ranks with Cold Mountain as my all-time favorite Civil War-era novel. It is a beautifully written, fully realized, and astoundingly insightful novel, the finest and, in the best sense, most American novel about an American heroine or hero that I’ve read since The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” – Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg
 
“There's more than a whiff of the classic in Robin Oliveira's compulsively readable historical tale about Mary Sutter, a young midwife and aspiring physician making her way through Lincoln's war--a new iconic American heroine.” – Janice Lee, author of The Piano Teacher
 
“A simply remarkable book. Robin Oliveira brings the Civil War era vividly alive with a heroine no reader will ever forget.” - Ron Rash, author of Serena
 
"A vivid, dramatic novel about love, medicine, and the Civil War, My Name Is Mary Sutter features an indomitable, memorable heroine whom the reader will root for until the very end." – David Ebershoff, author of The 19th Wife and The Danish Girl
 
“This is a finely written novel of a passionate but headstrong woman who lets nothing stand in her way…The author uses her knowledge about the war to describe the deplorable conditions under which the medical profession worked. Amputations are described in detail, and these scenes are not for the faint-hearted. The relationships between Mary and her family members, her mentor, and others she meets are exceptionally well done. This unforgettable novel of the American Civil War should become a classic. I highly recommend My Name Is Mary Sutter to readers who wish to gain a better understanding of the war and its effects on those who lived through it.”- Jeff Westerhoff, The Historical Novels Review (Editor’s Choice)
 
“Oliveira’s voice is urgently compelling in its detail and so authentically pitched, she might have been transported directly from the tumult of Civil War Washington to report this story.” - Debra Dean, author of Madonnas of Leningrad
 




 

More About the Author

Robin Oliveira received an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship for a work-in-progress for My Name is Mary Sutter. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Customer Reviews

Their stories were just as interesting as the main one.
Amazon Customer
The book felt like a mix of historical fiction, interesting love story and a peak into the art world of the era.
M. Reich
This is the story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas during a time of great changes in the art world of Paris.
bettysunflower

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Historical Fiction Notebook on February 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
It's a testament to the power of this story and the conviction of Robin Oliveira's writing that I'm able to look back and review this book almost six months after reading it. Oliveira's first novel - My Name is Mary Sutter - is on my list of all-time favorite historical novels so when I saw that her follow-up book looked at one of my favorite times and places in history (the Belle Epoque Paris of the Impressionists), I was beyond excited.

I've been disappointed by a lot of historical novels lately - they either seemed to lack ambition or would have been better served by a focused editor's eye. I Always Loved You is the exact opposite - a considered work of art in its own right that looks at the twisted demands of art, family and love and that brings late 19th century Paris to life.

The novel is beautiful in its simplicity - a short opening chapter that introduces the reader to an older Mary Cassatt then moves seamlessly into two stories based on the real lives of the small, interwoven group of men and women who would become known as the Impressionists. The main story focuses on the artistic and emotional development of Mary Cassatt, one of the few female painters in the group. In a richly detailed third-person narrative, we're brought close in to the daily frustrations of an artist at a critical juncture in her working life, that time when a painter or a writer or a musician knows enough to know that they have so much more to learn. At this moment, she meets Edgar Degas and begins an acquaintance that shifts and grows and fractures with time, defying categorization but always influencing her artistic development in unexpected ways.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By bettysunflower on February 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas during a time of great changes in the art world of Paris. Mary had moved to Paris from America to pursue a career as an artist to learn for the locals. It was there that she met Edgar who offered to help her show her work. They seemed to have an a rather unusual relationship but fairly understandable for the time period. It is pretty obvious that they loved each other. However, they never seemed to be able to give each other what was needed.
The strength of this book is the author's incorporation of the growth of certain styles of art and how they developed and the people who developed them. The characters and their interactions in relation to each other and to their art is fascinating. It also shows us how the artists seem to have to suffer in order to produce superior art. I felt the book was very well written and easy for someone with limited art history knowledge to understand and to enjoy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By My Dog-Eared Purpose on February 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Finish time: 9 nights. After my last book, I was hoping for a bit of an easier read, but somehow I ended up on this one that took me almost as long. And centered around art again too. Hmmm. Not a bad thing, just kind of funny. I had a love, hate relationship with this book, but after thinking about it the last day, I did like it, and it’s prompted me to want to learn more on a topic 10 days ago I had no interest in. So I’d take that as a sign of a good book.

Having no background in art history, I could recognize some of the names, but I had no idea much more about them. And this is a random comparison, but what kept popping into my head after I finished on how to describe this book is: Real World: Paris, 19th Century Or the Impressionists. And the people all happened to be artists. Renoir, Manet, Monet, Cassatt, Degas, Morisot, Pissaro (and many more). Some names familiar to me, others not, but in my brief Wikipedia research, they all were real (and quite the motley crew), as were the other characters in the book. I guess it was also a “before they were famous” story too. A bunch of starving artists spending their days dreaming, painting, partying, trying to make a buck, and preparing for the next exhibition.

The main character in the book was Mary Cassatt, an American painter, invited to join the group, and her struggle to fit in among the Paris natives, and make a name for herself in the Paris art scene. Her relationship throughout the book with Degas is a fun, yet very frustrating one. Her family comes to join her in Paris too and even in the 1800′s, her struggles with them were so easy to relate to.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By indiereadergirl0329 on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mary Cassatt had admired always admired Degas as an artist; what came after she never expected

It’s 1877 and American artist Mary Cassatt is almost at her wit’s end, living in Paris, rejected by the Salon for the first time. She is becoming broke, with her father telling her to come home. Not knowing what to do, it is when she meets the impressionist painter she admires most that she decides to stay in Paris, until her death many years later. Edgar Degas is difficult, needy, brilliant, and ever the match for Mary. Spanning years, the novel details their tumultuous relationship; the ups- with encouragement, exhibitions, a few kisses, and kind words; and downs- periods of being frozen out, rude comments,not so chivalrous actions, and slight betrayals. The relationship, often hot and cold is hard to decipher on many ends.

Told in third person narrative, Mary Cassatt and Degas’s relationship isn’t the only plot in the novel. Also taking narrative is Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot’s somewhat twisted love affair, as well. There were many famous French Impressionist name drops. However, these two couples were the center points; Degas and Cassatt taking center stage, with Cassatt’s story the primary focus.

Growing up in a house with posters of Renoir’s and Monet’s’ loving French impressionists, I was excited to read this book. I have always loved the French culture, specifically Paris, having visited there three times. I liked learning about the complicated relationship between Degas and Cassatt;but, mostly learning about her since I did not know much about her. I found Degas, sadly, whiny, immature, rude, and not a nice guy.
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