Mattie Sylvester, widow of one of America's most celebrated painters, spends most of her time gazing out to sea on an island off the Atlantic Coast, reviewing her past, and remembering. Her new secretary, Sarah Kidd, is fascinated by the eccentric household and its mistress--the elegant, feisty and brooding Mattie. Slowly an unlikely bond forms between the two women as Mattie talks about the past--her early life, her circle of artist friends in the 1920's, her handsome, charming, sexual wizard of a husband, and their sons--but Sarah is shocked as the remembrances give way to a simmering rage. As they talk through the nights, Sarah learns the truth about Gideon Sylvester and the incredible enormity of the crime he committed against his wife. Reviews: from Grand Rapids Press, Michigan, Oct. 14, 1990 You'll want to own this book. The protagonist, Mattie Sylvester, is that kind of indomitable character you've loved since childhood; sort of like Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline, but with the wit and wisdom age can provide ... Painted Lives is, in short, a nicely-constructed tale with memorable characters ... You'll not be disappointed, and you'll even enjoy rereading this book, Allen's 26th. She's in full stride now, and you'll want to watch for her next one as well. Pittsburgh Press, May 6, 1990 ... For a long time writer, Charlotte Vale-Allen, who has published 26 novels and one non-fiction book, has believed that artists see things differently, that their vision is more heightened than that of others. It's around this intriguing idea Allen builds her latest novel Painted Lives. Within the book's pages she explores the life and mind of a woman artist. The result is a story that captures and holds the reader's attention with a plot that dips and swirls with unexpected twists. Her characters are both provocative and warmhearted. A liberal sprinkling of mystery peppers the story line, keeping the reader guessing to the last chapter.
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