The book deals with a fictionalised biography of Jennet Marlow - a brilliant artist who takes years and years to "find herself" and also to realize the value of her work and what she is capable of.
We go along with Jennet from being a simple student enjoying the carefree days of a young scholar to her involvement and love affair with David and her falling pregnant and the subsequent changes to her life. Giving up her studies to become a full time wife and mother Jennet's natural abilities are put aside for the mundane. Gradually her talent blossom again and erupts in paintings which become much sought after and acknowledged by the world at large. This however disrupts her marriage as her husband also an artist has now sunk into drugs and drinks and also cannot handle or accept his wife's success.
Against a bohemian background of both Spain and St Ives in which Jennet somehow doesn't quite fit though she is malleable enough to go along with David's wishes. She seems at this stage a very subservient wife who is trying to balance it all and mainly sees in her painting, a way of paying the bills and maintaining their lifestyle. She does not see herself as a great artist and feels that David is the brilliant artist who needs to be the cynosure. Whether this was symtomatic of the times the book was set in I couldn't say because it seems at this stage of the story Jennet just was more than willing to give in to her husband's wishes at every turn.
It is only with her children all grown up and out of the nest and David dead of chronic alcoholism, does the artist work at her brilliant best in isolated Yorkshire.
The story is unusual. First the narrator is unknown from the beginning to the end. It is almost clinically told as if we are commenting from a distance. This is specially so when one thinks that the story is almost from life to death of Jennet Marlow.
The story is very descriptive specially of the paintings - and paintings like this are difficult to describe. The author herself might be an artist I feel because to describe abstract paintings is not easy, specially to bring them so much to life that you can imagine the blues, greys and greens used in them. Descriptions of the country from Spain to St Ives to Yorkshire are detailed and special.
A very unusual author. I read about her work on Cornflower Books and had made a note - so glad I did.