In 1915, 27-year-old Georgia O’Keeffe is an impoverished schoolteacher when she creates her first abstract drawings in charcoal. She mails them to a friend in New York City, who takes them to Alfred Stieglitz. A brilliant photographer in his own right, Stieglitz is renowned for introducing such artists as Picasso and Matisse in his gallery. He writes to Georgia, saying that she will become legendary. She keeps drawing, and two years later, he features her works in his gallery. Without telling Stieglitz, she spends her last dollars on a train ticket from Texas to New York.
Thus begins Georgia, by Dawn Tripp. This breathtaking novel plunges deep into the two-way relationship between O’Keeffe and Stieglitz – passionate lovers, artist and muse, inspiration and the fertile loam which nurtures it. Georgia becomes Stieglitz’s most intimate subject, and he displays her nude portraits with his other photography. He spurs her on to try oil painting, and her work literally blossoms with spellbinding irises, hypnotic poppies, and delirious jimsonweed.
Georgia is also the finest imagining of another woman’s very soul that I have ever read. Ms. Tripp uses Georgia O’Keeffe’s correspondence with Alfred Stieglitz, interviews, and speeches to create completely believable scenes and dialogue, both internal and between her characters.
Sensual and intimate, heart-wrenching and triumphant: if you read only one book this year, let it be Georgia.