Prize-winning author's new collection of stories of art and torn emotions.
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 artist 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 soalien it takes her world 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.
...His Blue Period...is 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 TE
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
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
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
Martin's large gift [is] for fiction, that insidiously enters the reader's imagination, and lingers. - NEW STATESMAN (13.3.06) - Nicholas Clee
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.