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The Sense of Paper (A Novel of Obsessions) Paperback – September 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553803948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553803945
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,635,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British journalist Holden (Shell Shock) delivers a superior novel of suspense in her well-plotted fiction debut. Charlotte "Charlie" Hudson, a former reporter suffering from physical and psychological wounds incurred while covering the war in Kosovo, decides to give up on the book she's writing about Kosovo and begin one on her new passion—handmade art papers and the use thereof by the great 19th-century British painter, J.M.W. Turner. Part of this passion involves a growing romantic attraction to world-famous painter Sir Alan Matheson. Holden weaves pages of esoteric paper lore into a tale that involves Charlie's tenuous mental stability and the growing mystery surrounding the suicide death of Sir Alan's daughter, Angela. Readers who are interested in art history and artists' lives will find themselves enthralled with the depth and scope of information, while those with less intellectual tastes may find themselves guiltily skipping ahead. Holden is the pseudonym of Wendy Holden, who has covered wars for the Daily Telegraph. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The wasp's paper nest, made by bugs chewing tree fibers that mix with the insects' saliva, inspired the ancient Chinese to develop papermaking. From such humble beginnings eventually came richly textured, handmade papers highly prized by centuries of artists. Never one to "stay home and write about nice things," despite her mother's pleas, British journalist Charlotte "Charlie" Hudson returns from covering the Kosovo war. She has a widely acclaimed book to show for her efforts there--and also hideous flashbacks and nightmares. Desperate for a new focus, she meets well-known painter Alan Matheson--by happenstance? Kismet?--while admiring handmade papers at the Bloomsbury artists' supply shop her artist grandfather had patronized. Alan is interested in her idea for a book about the historic importance of artists' papers and provides her books and academic treatises on the consequence of specific papers for the great English painter Turner. So begins Charlie's transformation in this lusciously textured novel of suspense and discovery, full of emotional nuance as accurately and delicately rendered as Turner's clouds. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Paper appears to be a metaphor for the lives and personalities of the books characters. Charlie, whose life experiences have left her a fragile as tissue paper, Alan, attractive, unique and possessing an unusual edge, Cassie, durable and constant as brown shipping paper, Nick, flawed but with an inner strength.....well, you get the idea.

There are many lessons to be learned from this read. Lessons in art history, the process for producing quality handmade paper and and the importance of that quality in the production of great masterpieces by artists such as Turner.

Through the main characters, we also venture into the realms of obsession, erotic love, war and its consequences, suicide, obsession and death. A remarkable and engrossing story. I doubt if you will find a more interesting and compelling read this year.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Tranmer on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
A story about a journalist suffering from a war-torn past and her journey through healing and the rediscovery of love as she researches her new book, a history of the art of paper-making, this book has a little bit of everything--history, love and romance, mystery, action and adventure. Overall, I found the story interesting, but somewhat lukewarm. I can't imagine anyone hating this book, but it's also not much for discussion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on October 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Reporter Charlie Holden, now in her 40s, is back in London after some grueling and dangerous years covering world conflicts, recovering from physical and emotional wounds she received in Kosovo four years earlier.

In London, Charlie comes across painter Sir Alan Matheson, who suggests she write a book on paper, art paper manufacture in England and the work of Turner. He provides her with research ideas, contacts, and shows her his small and precious collection of Whatman papers, the same ones Turner used.

As Charlie gets to know Sir Alan, she discovers disquieting facts about his daughter Angela, dead of a drug overdose; and his first wife, still somewhat mentally unstable. She is reminded of her beloved grandfather, also a painter, and her own suicide attempt. The parallels in their lives both repel and attract Charlie to Alan.

Charlie's patient husband Nick, who has lived apart from her for years, and her best friend Carrie, try to provide a stable backdrop for Charlie, and what they see as a possibly problematic relationship. As Charlie's book, Paper Chase, is finished, and their relationship draws them closer together, several startling and frightening events in the lives of the lovers change them forever.

Taylor Holden was a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, covering Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. This is her first novel.

Armchair Interviews says: Lots of clues about relationships Charlie Holden ignores.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Thinking of doing a book on the great early nineteenth century English romantic landscape artist JMW Turner, Charlie, on a whim to contain her internal demons, visits artist supply store L. Cornelissen & Sons. There she becomes fascinated with all the different types of paper on sale, mumbling out loud which paper JMW Turner would choose. Another customer responds saying none of these. He is highly regarded artist and Turner expert Alan Matheson. They talk over coffee as she thinks this is happenstance that they have met. As he encourages her paper chase, they begin to fall in love, but he has as many troubles as she does especially from live and dead females that lead to Charlie's need to know the truth.

THE SENSE OF PAPER is an excellent modern day love story with a deep look at paper choices somewhat available today but especially during the nineteenth century and its importance to Turner. The mystery of the death of Matheson's daughter adds depth to understanding his ghosts and motives. Yet the core of this exquisite novel is the heroine who seeks something to affirm her reason for living; she may have found this as she begins to comprehend THE SENSE OF PAPER (read the novel to comprehend the subtly of the title) during her research with Alan at her side encouraging her.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
The Sense of Paper is a paean to the creative process (paper, artist), a search for identity after a traumatic encounter in Kosovo and a mystery/romance, all rolled into one. A longtime lover of books and art, Charlotte (Charlie) Hudson has been applauded for her book on her experiences in war-torn Kosovo, where she herself falls victim to the violence raging across the region. Recovering from the life-changing ordeal, Charlie has sought comfort in oblivion, sometimes in alcohol, others in writing her second book. Reminiscing over her beloved grandfather's appreciation of the works of JMW Turner, Charlie decides to write about the artist and his fascination with the quality of paper on which he painted. To that end, she visits a specialty store for artist's paper and supplies, where she meets renowned artist Sir Alan Matheson.

An older man, the very successful Matheson takes an immediate interest in Charlie, encouraging her to pursue the book on Turner and offering to help in any way he can. Begun innocently enough, it is this relationship, the broken journalist and the sophisticated painter and paper connoisseur that plays a critical role in Charlie's resolution of a seemingly insoluble internal conflict. But even in her blossoming romance with Sir Alan, Charlie's curiosity is piqued by an event in his past that remains shrouded in secrecy. True to form, Charlotte must unravel this mystery to learn if the man in her life is friend or fiend. Dogged by doubt and self-recriminations, Charlie eventually faces the core of her problems, forced to deal with the horrors that haunt her dreams: "Sometimes I actually curse my own good fortune.
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