The Artist is the story of a nineteenth century painter, Theo and his model, Lizzie. This is the perfect setup for a romance novel because, as we all know, artists are always shagging their models. I have known this to be true since I read Judith Kranz's Mistral's Daughter when I was about twelve. (There's quite a bit of rumpy pumpy in that book. It's possibly, on reflection, not really suitable reading for a child.) The fact that I have been to life drawing classes myself and never shagged any of the models I've painted does not in any way diminish my strongly held Artist/Model shag-based belief system.
|More Artist/Model shag shenanigans|
There's a lot more to Juliette Banks' story than just shagging, of course, but it's a damn good starting point. What begins, for Theo, as merely lustful urges to be slaked, soon develops into something rather more wonderful. And far more complicated.
Lizzie seems at the beginning of the book to be rather more timid and downtrodden than is ideal for a literary heroine. She isn't weak in the slightest but she is carrying a lot of very heavy emotional baggage. She has been forced to flee her abusive husband and then endure the rejection of a society which does not tolerate a married woman who has chosen to leave her husband.
Taking a job as an model for an eccentric artist is very much an act of desperation on her part. However, as the story develops, the reader discovers that the she is an exceptionally strong woman with a mind of her own.
We don't have to wait long for the shagging though and when it comes it is hot, spanky and well outside the acceptable norms of Victorian etiquette.
When things take a turn for the dramatic, Theo and Lizzie end up in exile in Florence, amongst a non-conformist artist community. There is a surprising bit of polyamory introduced to the story here. It's is all done so cheerfully and with everyone having such a delightful time that it's rather lovely.
|Bohemian Artist types|
However, their happiness is short-lived when Theo and Lizzie are both arrested as the suspected murderers of Lizzie's husband. It's a desperate situation and one which, if both parties were not in a romance novel and therefore guaranteed a Happy Ever After, would almost certainly result in a death sentence for both of them.
I don't think I am spoiling anything by saying that there is a Happy Ever After though. It's reassuring to know that these two lovely characters who have experienced more than their fair share of drama, heartbreak and misery, will finally be able to relax and enjoy their spanky sexy happy ending. They really deserve it.
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