The Last Summer Of The World
Rarely does a book present the delicate balance of the relationship between a man and a woman as well as this one. Within its pages, the misplaced hopes, primal fears and unrealized dreams of both parties wreak havoc on love and commitment. When the burgeoning weight of the First World War is added to the mix, the results are a tragedy almost beyond the ability of either to understand, let alone control.
This book is based on the young adult years in the life of Edward Steichen, the great and enigmatic pioneering photographer. It examines the pivotal years of his artistic life in France in the early 20th century, which coincided with his first marriage. Beginning with an alienation of affection lawsuit brought by his wife against her best friend, the artist Marion Beckett, the author weaves a tale of how it might have come about, and the forces which ultimately decide the outcome. It is told against the background of Steichen’s artistic life, which includes his mentor Auguste Rodin, as well as his romantic interludes with such notables as Isadora Duncan and the British sculptor Kathleen Bruce. The menace of World War I provides the ever-present historic structure.
The result is an absorbing, highly readable story which satisfies on many levels. The author is a gifted writer who combines a well researched, highly detailed factual account with an artistic, almost poetic tale of great emotional complexity. She seems equally at home with the horrors of the trenches as she is in the mind of a young husband. Her tale is first experienced, and then contemplated long after reading.
This remarkable book should not missed.