Posts Tagged Ellis Avery
Making lists of my favorite books, music, films proves challenging every year. Thus I’m making a list of 20. To put it in perspective, I’ve read 90 books at this writing. I have a few in progress. Here are the one’s that I keep thinking about and recommending to others [If I reviewed it, I linked to the review]:
1.The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu [Hogarth]
2. The Collective by Don Lee [W.W.Norton]
3. The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields [Pamela Dorman]
4. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz [Riverhead]
5. Dirt by David Vann [Harper]
6. The Last Nude by Ellis Avery [Riverhead]
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green [Dutton]
8. Too Bright to Hear Too Loud To See by Juliann Garey [Soho]
9. The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus [Knopf]
10. Stay Awake: stories by Dan Chaon [Ballantine/Random House]
[these are listed in the order that I’ve read them]
The Last Nude by Ellis Avery [Riverhead, 2012]
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margo Livesey [HarperCollins, 2012]
Stay Awake: stories by Dan Chaon [Ballantine/Random House, 2012]
Charlotte au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood by Charlotte Silver 
Make It Stay by Joan Frank [Permanent Press, 2012]
Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lakhous [Europa, April 2012]
The Lion is In by Delia Ephron [March 2012]
Guts by Kristen Johnston [March 2012]
Threats by Amelia Gray [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012]
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green [Dutton, 2012]
Dirt by David Vann [Harper, April 2012]
I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern [IT Books, 2012]
Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead [Riverhead Books, 2012]
MISS FULLER by April Bernard [SteerForth Press, 2012]
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian [Doubleday, 2012]
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus [Knopf, 2012]
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz [Riverhead, 2012]
The Last Nude , by Ellis Avery. Publisher: Riverhead (January, 2011). Literary fiction. Hardcover, 320 pg.
The Last Nude transports the reader to 1920s Paris and the expat art world. It’s an impressive work of historical fiction as the place and the characters become so vivid and recognizable to the reader. This makes The Last Nude a book you are hesitant to put down. It’s immensely engrossing.
Above my desk I have a small framed print of Tamara de Lempicka’s “My Portrait,” in which she sits at the wheel of a bright green car in a gray hat, gray scarf and bright red lipstick. I also have “Saint Moritz”—a striking woman wearing a red and white turtleneck ski sweater. I’ve always been drawn to these art deco paintings. The colors, the attitude, the soft edges. All very appealing. So when I saw The Last Nude by Ellis Avery, I knew I had to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Avery’s descriptions of Paris are elegant and magical, yet also gritty. The reader should be enraptured by Paris. How can one not? It’s such an artistic, fashionable, beautiful city. I stayed in Paris for some time, many years ago and a novel as descriptive as this one brings everything right back to me in full color. It’s a true delight. Avery focuses on many ex-pats like Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Peripheral characters include the Seine and Sylvia Beach’s famed bookstore Shakespeare and Company.
The Last Nude imagines an affair between Tamara de Lempicka and one of her models– the one who sat for “The Dream” and “Beautiful Rafaela.” She’s a young woman of 17, recently arrived in Paris, naive to the ways of the art world and the excessiveness of the 1920s as well. Tamara seduces Rafaela and Rafaela falls quickly and intensely in love with Tamara. Of course artists can be selfish and cruel but Rafaela gives her whole heart before learning about Tamara’s shortcomings. This is a novel about the roaring, stylish 20s, art, survival, love and betrayal.
I marveled as I pulled the brown dress over my head. Sleek fashion plate, focused artist, resplendent lover, competent mother: I had seen four Tamaras in two days.
When Tamara finds Rafaela she’s turning tricks and surviving by any means necessary—in most cases trading her body for dinners, food, gifts. She’s a stunning young woman but also naïve and impressionable. She admires Tamara’s independence [or seemingly so because later we find out that Tamara, as most artists of the time, had a benefactor], talent and sexual freedom. Rafaela quickly becomes obsessed with Tamara and believes they’re in a mutually exclusive relationship. But it’s the twenties and Tamara is an artist. Who is Tamara really? Rafaela doesn’t find this out until later.
The Last Nude resonates with and enthusiastic first love and the reality of supporting oneself as an artist. In imagining the liaison between artist and muse, Ellis Avery crafts an engulfing novel. She makes life in the 1920s pop from the pages.
purchase at Amazon: The Last Nude