The Curiosities by Susan Gloss
by Susan Gloss
Paperback, 368 pages
William Morrow (February 5, 2019)
In an attempt to parlay her impressive education in art history into a paying job, Nell Parker finds herself in the office of an attorney, who knows nothing about art, to interview for a job as director of a new nonprofit artists’ colony. Eager, almost desperate, for a change with the potential to inject some hope into her otherwise hopeless situation, Nell and her interviewer each agree to take on more than they could ever have imagined during their first meeting.
This artist-in-residency program has been created by the recently deceased Betsy Barrett, a very wealthy art aficianado, and is to be carried out within the specifications of a trust she established; in addition, all will take place on the grounds of her lakeside estate. The first set of residents was selected by Betsy, just prior to her death; they come from widely varied backgrounds, and produce different forms of art, but all have endured losses and their artistic efforts have suffered because of these life circumstances.
As they each begin to make realizations about their experiences, these tragic circumstances that have affected the trajectory of their lives and their work, their ideas begin to flourish and their art takes off in a more purposeful and profoundly significant direction.
Nell, too, has survived difficult life experiences and, as they all come together to support one another, in spite of their own pain, they begin to see themselves in one another and build a beautiful community. Certainly not an expert, and I rarely claim more than a very basic knowledge on art, I loved reading about these artistic characters and I enjoyed the way Gloss combines their voices.
For those who have suffered infant losses, due to miscarriage or stillbirth, a warning that the theme is prevalent in this novel; having said that, I think Gloss writes these passages from a place of experience because her respect and sensitivity to this issue are certainly apparent. The Curiosities is a heartfelt novel that displays the beauty of connection within our lives.