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The Flower to the Painter Paperback – June 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Fireship Press (June 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611791618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611791617
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,249,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Gary Inbinder is a retired attorney who left the practice of law to write full-time. His fiction, articles and essays have appeared in Bewildering Stories, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Absent Willow Review, Morpheus Tales, Touchstone Magazine and other publications. Gary is a member of The Historical Novel Society. He is also a member of the Bewildering Stories Editorial Review Board. His novels, The Flower to the Painter(2011) and Confessions of the Creature (2012), are published by Fireship Press. His new historical murder mystery, The Devil in Montmartre: A Mystery in Fin de Siècle Paris, will be out in hardcover edition from Pegasus Books (Distributed in the U.S. by W.W. Norton, & Co) with an expected December 15, 2014 publication date.

Customer Reviews

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I recommend Gary Inbinder's novel to all who enjoy art, social commentary, and superb writing.
Mary Donnarumma Sharnick
Great artists throughout the centuries have been peculiarly prone to the belief their Art was the most important factor in the universe.
Danielle L. Parker
In short, Inbinder's vivid language and memorable characters immerse the reader in the nineteenth-century European art scene.
J. Knauss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Knauss on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Gary Inbinder's second novel, The Flower to the Painter, transports the reader into the elegant, commercialistic art world of late nineteenth-century Europe. Through the sharp eye of protagonist Marcia Brownlow, we float along the canals of Venice, travel by train through the Alps, and meet John Singer Sargent, Leighton, Whistler, and other memorable painters of the time. We even exchange sketches with Renoir in Montmartre.

Marcia Brownlow was down on her luck when she came to Europe as a governess, a position that quickly became intolerable. Pleading her case before the wealthy aunt of her best friend, Marcia is faced with a risky but lucrative proposition. She accepts the challenge of working for a famous writer not as Marcia but as her brother, Mark. The combination of Mark's gender advantage and Marcia's artistic talent quickly propels her into a promising career. Her "unnatural" bent toward women allows to her romance her wealthy patronesses with pleasure, but only up to a certain frustrating point. Which will Marcia choose: her love or her art? Does it have to be one or the other?

Inbinder's intuitive sense of the sights, sounds, and smells of the period help the reader to feel that Marcia's conflicted, quixotic adventure is their own. It's not easy for a male author to convince the reader that he's inside the head of a female narrator, but even that metaliterary tension contributes to the success of this delightful novel.

In short, Inbinder's vivid language and memorable characters immerse the reader in the nineteenth-century European art scene. This book is a must-read for any art history fan as well as readers interested in a satisfying, gender-bending romance.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Lloyd on July 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Gary Inbinder's new novel "The Flower to the Painter" is a scintillating tapestry of lives lived on the cusp of 1870s high society and the artistic milieu which it both supported and exploited.

There is fine mood setting and character delineation in the opening chapters, with a nice achievement of dramatic equilibrium in the ruthless ambitions of the two main women portrayed there. And we quickly realise that we are reading not a lightweight romance novella but a potentially much richer and deeper literary work.

And then the author sets himself a classic challenge. Let's face right up to it here: Can the reader seriously believe in any story where a woman decides to impersonate a man and gets away with it for more than thirty seconds? Well, we believe in it without blinking in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" ... and perhaps mainly because it's Shakespeare. Thankfully we can accept it all the more readily here, because Inbinder steadily and surely suspends our disbelief with the finest attention to every little detail (both nice and nasty, both public and private) of his heroine's partly enforced subterfuge.

And once we do believe, we can luxuriate without a care in the richness of the story itself!

Soon, our new "hero" -- a talented young artist -- has managed to hoodwink both a man of the world and a sought-after heiress. Or has he really? And there will be many other men and women to be deceived (or not) along the way. The reader, largely (but not completely) in sympathy with Marcia (now Mark) Brownlow's successive challenges and crises, will ponder such agonising questions along with "him" throughout the star-studded story.

This carefully crafted novel does not rely much on dramatic action, let alone melodrama, for its powerful effect.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill Bowler on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I found it easy, enjoyable, interesting reading. The characters are vivid, the plot is intriguing, the sense of time and place is beautifully evoked.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marina J. Neary on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
With the elegance, eloquence and perceptiveness of Henry James of Arthur Schnitzler, Gary Inbinder explores the sexual, artistic and social politics of Euro-American relations. His sensual, tangible heroine is bound to move the readers' hearts and fancies. Too often, too many historical novelists are tempted to make their work "relevant" by capitalizing on what they perceive to be pressing issues (gender roles, social injustice), thinking that doing so will make their work somehow more readable or commercial, while in reality they put themselves at risk at sounding as if though they have a huge chip on their shoulder and are only using fiction to promote their own political agenda. Gary Inbinder avoids that trap. The demeanor of his characters is perfectly in tune with the world in which they live. This novel is not a starving artist anthem. It's a brilliant, accurate portrayal of an era in visual arts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Romie Stott on August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've edited another of Inbinder's books - a Henry James mashup called Daisy Miller, Zombie Killer - which is how I came to read The Flower to the Painter (as a publishing proof; I haven't had the benefit of seeing the printed product and can't speak to the binding). Something that attracts me to Inbinder's pastiches is their double consciousness - an un-cynical love for the source material, coupled with an awareness of the shortcomings of the era's gender politics.

It's like he's trying to resolve the classic armchair time traveler's dilemma - you'd love to be able to escape into an idyllic past, but in the past they would have hated and feared you and all you stand for, and you'd hate and fear them right back. I've had to set down a number of Regency-era books over the years because of an author's vocal opinions on "the weaker sex" and their foibles, conniving, innocence, cunning, and general unsuitability. Inbinder returns some of that escapist pleasure to feminists by providing some measure of comeuppance or I-told-you-so, while at the same time giving his characters' own thoughts about gender and homosexuality some measure of historical credulity. It's a difficult balance, and I'm impressed Inbinder so often manages it.

The Flower to the Painter's first-person narrator is a penniless American of good name who spends most of the novel in Europe, masquerading as a young male artist to try to improve her financial situation. Marcia exhibits unusual frankness for a narrator of the era, both in her evaluations of other characters and in her discussions of bodily functions; one imagines how Vanity Fair might have sounded if told by Becky Sharp (presuming Miss Sharp did not dissemble, as she likely would).
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