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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  687 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
March 1998

With such acclaimed works as The Shadow Man and The Other Side, Mary Gordon has established herself as one of America's most important female writers. Her novels are known for their vivid explorations of the depths of human feeling and what it means to live a moral, religious, and artistic life. In Spending, Gordon examines the compl
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 9th 1998 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,253)
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This book felt incredibly honest and real - but wholly original, and I can say without doubt I've never ready anything like it or with characters such as these.

There is honesty in the romantic relationship between Monica and B, and the first-person narrative helps supplement the story and her own complex personality. Nothing in life is easy, but what if it were made easier? There are so many questions among these pages - discussion points about money, power, sex, family, relationships, etc. - th
Jan 04, 2016 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I didn't love it when I was finished with it (for reasons I'll get to), but it was more thoughtful than I expected it to be.

Basically, a female artist (Monica) is approached by a wealthy man who proposes to be her "muse" (although patron is more like it) so that she's able to reach her full potential as an artist. But they're immediately attracted to each other and become lovers almost as soon as he introduces himself to Monica (she doesn't divulge his name until the last page
Jun 02, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In this book, Mary Gordon deals directly with two modern dilemmas - between guilt over having wealth and wanting to enjoy it; and between wanting equality between men and women in our intimate relationships but also wanting to celebrate and express difference.

So many novels depict men and women who get squeezed, bruised or destroyed by these tensions. Mary Gordon's main character navigates them and makes it seem possible to find a way to reconcile them in a real life - not some fantasy. Novels t
Nov 14, 2007 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.
Dec 27, 2007 Mairead rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Isi
Shelves: favorites
While others panned this book, I treasured the time spent reading and discussing Spending. During that phase of my life I was bogged down in critical theory and other academic writings. This book presented a bit of theory with a lot of sexy fluff. A brain in a boa.

Monica, a 50 year old artist, is middle-of-the-road until a wealthy patron nabs her up, providing her all of the spending money and time that she needs. He serves as her muse in a series 'Spent Men, After the Masters', which depicts a
Angie Abdou
Smutty! Intelligent, original and interesting, though. However, it's very long -- there are no chapter breaks and the text is packed-in tightly. I was very engaged for the first 100 pages or so and then started to lose interest. It got repetitive and predictable. I guess, it was just too narrowly focused for such a long book (in my opinion). The writing is great -- but it's so contemplative and so tightly zoomed in on the one character's thoughts that it couldn't hold my attention for THAT long. ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Syd rated it really liked it
My first exposure to Mary Gordon was a short story in an O. Henry Collection and I was blown away. Since then, I have read a lot of her work and have never had the same experience. When I began this novel, I was immediately pleased. Although the quality of her writing never wavers, I was sick of the narration about the love affair about halfway through. What I did love was the description of painting, the process of art, and its connection to life.
Thurston Hunger
Jul 21, 2009 Thurston Hunger rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of a number of books about artists that I read, quite by accident, around the same time – Patrick Gale’s Notes from an Exhibition, Kate Christensen’s The Great Man, Jim Harrison's lovely novella The Land of Unlikeness, and Ann Packer’s The Children’s Crusade. This was my favorite of the four, though The Great Man had the most interesting insights into the art world.

Basically, Monica, the heroine of this book, finds a good-looking, smart man who admires her work and wants to act as
This book is about an artist who enters into a relationship with a rich man who tells her he'll serve as her muse. I enjoyed the first half of this book much more than the second half. The jacket and reviews seem to think the most intriguing thing about the story is the relationship between sex and money, but the parts I found most interesting were the discussions of artistic creation and process.
Claire McMillan
Nov 12, 2015 Claire McMillan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why does no one else crush on this book like I do? Luxurious and sly - it turns the trope of the long suffering and all giving wife of the artist on its gendered head. Mary Gordon, you get it. Loved the whole thing through to the end.
Ellen Trufant
In this conversation between Monica Szabo, successful artist, and us, her readers/listeners, we get to know her deepest thoughts about art, money, love, sex, motherhood. For me, the best parts were her art experiences. I too was deeply moved when I saw Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring at the National Gallery, though I couldn't detail my response as she does. Also, I waited for six hours outside on a cold Washington morning during the government shutdown, unlike Monica. When her lover goes to ...more
May 05, 2011 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely one of the most trite books I have ever read. Supposedly liberating for women artists, but I found nothing liberating in the trite language and dull sex.
Dec 19, 2013 Juliet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readitagain
Re-reading this now, I see that the first 50 pages is the best part. Quick-paced yet not superficial, slutty yet highbrow, it's a page-turner. A guy at a reading -- er, painting discussion stands up and says he wants to be her sugar-daddy -- er, muse. Troubled that this might not be the best thing to do -- but not very much -- our heroine mulls it over and then agrees. And by "agrees," I mean "has sex with the guy." The deal is, Mr. Moneybags is going to fund her painting career and they'll also ...more
Carol Storm
Reading this novel is like watching Mother Teresa do the hoochy-coo.

It is not done well, but the surprising thing is that it can be done at all.

For those not yet in the know, Mary Gordon is the ultimate angry, uptight, failed Catholic -- her novels all feature prim, repressed, angry young Irish women who rebel against the church by having sex, (always with an unmitigated cad) only to end up embracing feminism as a "new" Catholicism that allows women to renounce sex, (for the right reasons) cele
Chris Leuchtenburg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2012 kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting commentary about gender and art, sexuality and art, and how money plays into the whole deal. My interest lies in how the "muse" is a gendered construct in the arts, and I applaud Gordon's attempt to reinscribe that image as a male one - and I believe she acknowledges the cultural difficulties that such a switcheroo raises, perhaps even that a complete role-reversal is impossible.

The problem really's boring. I rarely complain about such things, and I enjoy a variety of s
Jun 29, 2010 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book right after I read the novel THIRTEEN MOONS by Charles Fraizer. I was bowled over by the opulence of the story. The heroine, an artist, can have anything she wants because she is being supported by a lover, who demands nothing but gives everything. She paints him and it is controversial. Still, she can travel, eat, play, go to the spa, spend money like mad and it is o.k. Then she becomes successful with her art. There are many modes of "spending" in this novel and the sub-texts ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Kesler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not only one of the sexiest books I've ever read, but one of the very few novels in which the chief character is an artist that I don't find intensely annoying. Best of all, it has--on just the second page in the story--a perfect passage uttered by Monica, the painter protagonist, that I so often think of when I tell people I'm a painter and get their response:

"I really envy brain surgeons. People aren't always coming up to them--on beaches, in coffee shops--and saying, 'You know I do a
Michael van Duren
Oct 24, 2015 Michael van Duren rated it it was amazing
Just selected this one for my book club. Am curious what they will make of it. Eight men, not too open to "chick lit." But my hunch is that this will break through the defenses and they will like it. -to be continued...
Aug 30, 2015 Gr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't get to read such real, raw prose these days. Also, the attention to detail is fantastic. The book felt a bit dragged by the end but it was a great read nonetheless.
Jill Berry
Apr 16, 2016 Jill Berry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Covered many topics of interest to me, starting over mid-life romantically, the art world, relationship shifts and chance. Really enjoyed it.
Sep 22, 2014 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
This book took me forever. I'm not sure how I feel about it and I wish there had been chapters to help me pause appropriately along the way. but now it's done.

The story was fine and it brought up discussions of the roles of money and gender and careers. Maybe I read it 15 years later than it was meant to be read but it didn't grab me. The writing was lovely, descriptions of art were excellent and vivid but even now I only feel "meh"at having finished.
Aug 29, 2011 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books, ever.
I love Mary Gordon's writing style. To steal a friend's words, every word she uses is the perfect word.
The story and the characters and the writing are just fabulous. Sometimes, it seems like it's not just a story because it brings up all kinds of issues and conundrums and interesting discussions. I kept finding myself devouring it and then trying to force myself to slow down so I could enjoy it longer. And I felt that way from the day I started the book!

I can't s
The story is pure fantasy. An artist is suddenly given the opportunity to create her work freed from the bonds of money and timeby a wealthy patron who ends up being her lover and model. He supports her latest, scandalous artistic vision of re-creating classical images of the deposed Christ as postorgasmic rather than deceased. Her series creates a huge commotion from her fellow Catholic School friend..... It is a fun book hand delivered to me by a good friend who advised that I take it on vacat ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really different book - and a great read. It is about a female artist in her 50s. it demonstrates great relationships (both family and sexual) and troubled relationships (like between art and money). I would have said that this book is better for those of us closer to 50 except that Lindsey just returned it to me with rave reviews! I think anyone with any art education will especially appreciate this book (but i have NO knowledge of art and that did not get in the way of my enjoyment s ...more
May 14, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this on audio -- cassette tape, actually -- many years ago. I don't remember as much as I'd wish, though there is a dinner party at the end that I recall as both funny and moving. In retrospect, I wonder if it was a play on the dinner in To the Lighthouse?

I do have the actual hardcover, somewhere. I should look it over again; I met Ms. Gordon at a signing, recently, and she got me thinking of the kind of reading I used to do, back when I worked in a bookstore and had all the time --
Dana Jennings
Jun 25, 2014 Dana Jennings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Loved this book. Very sexy.
Apr 21, 2014 Juli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
Jul 14, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Mary Gordon's writing. It's a fantasy for sure but very enjoyable to read. It's also about art and the process, which I found interesting. The story evolves beyond the initial fantasy of a rich benefactor providing everything which provides for the reader a very good story. Money changes relationships and who has the money changes relationships. It has a couple surprises.....and kept my interest. It's a fast read inspite of no chapter breaks.
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from
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