Hold Still

Written by Cherry Smyth
Review by Liz Bryan

Set in London and Paris in the 1860s, Hold Still is a fictionalised account of Joanna Hiffernan, the model and muse of artists James Whistler and Gustave Courbet.

Jo, as she is called, met Whistler at the age of seventeen and their subsequent passionate love affair forms the background drama of this well-crafted, intriguing novel. There are some sexual scenes – this is very much an adult story – but they are tastefully written and form part of the human passion that surrounded the talents and gifts of these famous Victorian artists.

Jo herself is instantly an interesting character and the story flows through her life with as much passion as her passionate relationships. For readers who enjoy the pleasure of art, and the world of the Victorian Artist, this will be a novel to be devoured with enthusiasm. It is written in present tense, however, which not all readers feel comfortable with.