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Life Drawing

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,882 Ratings  ·  620 Reviews
From the author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, Life Drawing is a fierce, honest and moving story of married life--its betrayals, intimacies, and secrets.

Augusta and Owen have taken the leap. Leaving the city and its troubling memories behind, they have moved to the country for a solitary life where they can devote their days to each other and their art, where Au
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Random House (first published 2014)
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Iris  Pereyra
Within the first lines of Robin Black's stunning debut novel, Life Drawing: A Novel, we learn that the narrator's husband, Owen, has died, although we are yet to learn the details of how this happened.

This is one of those novels that provide great suspense and engages the reader's curiosity from the beginning, but it's not so much about guessing the outcome as it is about how the story and how the characters develop.

I realize that there's a tendency to use lots of hyperbole when describing books
Diane S ☔
Oct 30, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
This book was a total surprise for me. One never knows what goes on in a marriage. We see people holding hands, couples that seem to have kept the spark alive for many years, yet we never knows what they have gone through, if they are as happy as they appear. I felt somewhat of a voyeur r3eading about the long term relationship portrayed in this book.

This is Gus's story, a story chronicling the long term relationship and eventual marriage of her and Owen. He is a writer suffering from writer's b
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If this novel were to take out an ad in the personals, that ad might read "absolutely must love domestic fiction". If, like me, you tend to equate contemporary domestic fiction with chick lit, please don't make that mistake here. Life Drawing is serious literary fiction, plumbing the depths of a long-term relationship and exposing the consequences of impulsive behavior.

As with all contemplative fiction, the plot is simply a vehicle for exploring human folly and the commonalities we share as fla
Aug 19, 2014 Robert rated it it was ok
Clearly, I must have read a different novel than my compatriots. I swear to you I didn’t do it on purpose. NetGalley must have sent me the wrong book via cyberspace; I downloaded it to my Kindle, and then remained entirely detached throughout most of this tale. Which as I write this puts me in the minority, and not just any minority, mind you, a minority that currently hovers at 6%. I pride myself on being different, but my sandbox must be on another planet, and I sure as shit hope it’s not Plut ...more
Dec 17, 2014 Elyse rated it it was amazing

READ *Jan Ellison's* review'.... She wrote completely how I feel!!!!

In case you are lazy...
*Jan Ellison* says, "What a brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking novel. It does what only the best books do--remind us that there is no experience as exquisite, as immersive, as transformative, as being lost in a fiction that contains so much truth about love and life." [WOW!--thank you for that Jan]

Here a few places where I paused to reflect on memories from my own life ... (there a
I feel like there are a million books out there that discuss marriage. There are a million slow character studies. And a million books about artists and their creative lives.

But this book is special. The premise is fairly simple - Augusta and Owen are a lifelong free-spirited artist couple (she a painter, he a writer) that only gave in to the institution of marriage after they were almost torn apart by the betrayal of one of them, and have moved out to a secluded country house to rebuild their r
Violet wells

This is the story of Augusta and Owen who have retreated into the country to pursue their artistic ambitions but whose life together is turned upside down by the arrival of a new neighbour. Problem number one: I was never convinced either of them had any artistic talent. Owen is such a dull feckless man whose dialogue is so wooden and banal that it was impossible to imagine him as an underappreciated cult writer. Augusta too comes across as a dilettante artist. You have the feeling both are bury
Dec 22, 2014 Dem rated it really liked it
Life Drawing by Robin Black is one of those books that I could easily have passed by if not for a couple of Goodreads friend's reviews.

Slow to begin with and yet interesting enough to get my attention, this is one of those books that requires patience as its not full of drama or twists and turns and yet the atmosphere and the emotion of this story really had a huge impact on me. There was times I felt I was a fly on the wall in Gus and Owens home and while the characters are flawed and not part
I need to create a new virtual bookshelf: Marriage--Not for the faint of heart.

Early into Life Drawing I thought, "I just don't read a lot of marriage plot books. I don't really like the domestic story." Then I took a glance through my past reads. Hah. Madame Bovary. Anna Karenina. The Portrait of a Lady. Jane Eyre. Rebecca. Little Women. The Scarlet Letter. Crossing to Safety. The Color Purple. A Death in the Family. The Grapes of Wrath. Brick Lane. The Corrections. Gone Girl. The Interestings.
Oct 30, 2015 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A high 4 stars. Robin Black's writing is fabulous. In Life Lessons, she layers nuances of feeling, emotion, and impressions beautifully in what feels like effortless prose. There were so many sentences and passages that I wanted to capture, savour and keep close in plain view. The story is simple. Gus -- aka Augusta -- and Owen retreat to a life of isolation in a house in the country. Gus is a painter and Owen is a writer. A new neighbour -- Alison -- moves in, putting an end to Gus and Owen's i ...more
May 05, 2015 Dianne rated it really liked it
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…..when first we practice to deceive.” (Walter Scott)

Painter Gus (Augusta) and writer Owen are married and live in an isolated farmhouse in the country, in a state of self-exile as they clumsily work to recover an affair Gus had two years ago. Adding to the strain is the fact that Gus is “in the zone” creatively and Owen is struggling with a massive case of writer’s block. A British woman, Alison, moves into an adjoining property and Alison and Gus become friends,
Feb 11, 2014 Nichole rated it it was amazing
This novel about marriage and friendship and confidences and betrayal is a sock-knocker-offer. The portrait of a mature marriage is the best I’ve read since Crossing to Safety, the waxing and waning of tensions, so real. The spectacular first-person point of view (the wife) hits just right — not self pitying or self aggrandizing, just real and honest and true. And the gotta-know suspense of something revealed on the first page lasts the whole book long.

So few novels really nail mature middle-ag
Nov 22, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
I am going to copy what my Goodreads friend Joyce wrote about this novel because it's just perfect...

Joyce said ...
It's simple, but complicated. It's a mixture of feelings, love, betrayal, honesty, lies, what's said and what's not said, it's light, it's heavy. It's the universe of a marriage -- a Life Drawing. And it's a very good book.
Meet Owen, a struggling writer and Augusta (Gus), a creative painter. Their story begins with a betrayal of the worst sort and a bad, but honest decision to tell the truth causing gut-wrenching hurt, but then......forgiveness prevails.

Next, in steps the beautiful new neighbor Alison with an abusive x-husband and her Amazon-Like gorgeous, but meddling daughter Nora who causes disastrous complications that lead to the uncovering of more betrayals.....(view spoiler)

Larry Hoffer
Dec 19, 2014 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing
There are certain books you would like to devour in one or two sittings because of the suspense or tension their plots generate—you just need to know what will happen next and how the plot will be resolved. Then there are other books you wish you could devour because the writing is so breathtaking and you are so engaged in what is happening with the characters. The two aren't always mutually exclusive, but for me, books often fall in one category or the other.

Robin Black's Life Drawing definitel
Jul 28, 2014 Paula rated it it was ok
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Beautifully written - lovely, spare prose in a book that almost reads itself, Life Drawing takes on a well-worn topic and unfortunately brings nothing new, interesting or insightful to it. Ultimately disjointed and more than a bit implausible, it peters out, ending with an event some have called startling and devastating; but the method is too silly and contrived to have any real bite. Classic deus ex machina.

Life Drawing has been marketed as a
Mar 07, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars-or-more
A story of a husband and wife. A relationship tested and tried. A neighbour who moves in next door and befriends the wife. A friendship that develops and blossoms between the two women. A daughter who is drawn to the husband. A friendship that is betrayed. This is a very intimate read - between spouses and friends; trust that is broken and a fallout that is both a blessing and a curse. Black is poetic in her writing. 4 Stars.
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 26, 2014 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
“…you cannot see a landscape you are in. But you do begin to see it when you step away.”

These sentences are spoken by the narrator, forty-seven year-old Augusta “Gus” Edelman, who is an artist. She and her husband, Owen, live out in rural Pennsylvania, in a rambling old 1918 farmhouse that they bought and renovated three years ago, leaving their social life in Philly behind for a bucolic setting that would also stir the creative juices. From the opening, we learn that Gus had an affair in 2005,
Rebecca Foster
“There are often two conversations going on in a marriage. The one that you’re having and the one you’re not.” This rather chilling psychological study of a marriage between two artists left me feeling sobered. Black packs so much into a short novel: betrayal, creativity, jealousy, domestic violence, a parent with dementia, idealism, writer’s block, grief, religion, inspiration. The narrator, painter Augusta (Gus), is the one who has had an affair – a relatively rare choice of perspective: the r ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Zoeytron rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This debut novel depicts a painful slice of life that lays bare the damage done to a relationship by infidelity. Gus has been physically unfaithful and with the affair now over, she unburdens her conscience by admitting every detail of her indiscretion to her husband, Owen. Together, Gus and Owen forge ahead with their tattered relationship, but the accord is tenuous. The delicate balance is upset with the advent of a new neighbor, Alison Hemmings, who insinuates herself into the Edelman's life ...more
Dale Harcombe
Rating and review to come. Serious thinking going on before writing it.
Two and a half stars.
Where to start with this novel which came to me from Scribe publications? I wanted to like it and read it fairly quickly. To begin with I was happy enough reading, even though I didn’t like Gus (Augusta) who is a painter or her husband Owen, who is a writer struggling to overcome writer's block. It is a novel about choices and consequences. That and the beautiful prose kept me reading. It deals with them
Jul 21, 2015 Tooter rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book. What a heartbreaker!
Catherine McKenzie
This is one of my favourite reads in the last year or so. Well-written, suspenseful, fantastic. Highly recommend.
This is a story of Augusta (Gus), Owen, Alison, Nora, Bill, and Laine. The story is told by Gus; fragile, unassuming, vulnerable, imperfect Gus. She is an artist, a painter with modest accomplishments, married to Owen, a writer, also with modest accomplishments. This is the story of their life, past and present, the mistakes made, the burdens to bear, and how those mistakes and burdens haunt their lives, always. Reading this, I was embarrassed at times, feeling like a voyeur to someones private ...more
3.5 stars - It was really good.

This one was slow to build but the ending was well worth the wait. It's cynical and depressing, but an excellent reminder of how the "small" selfish things we do that hurt the ones we love can result in consequences more far-reaching than ever expected.

Favorite Quote: Life. It begins and begins and begins. An infinite number of times. It is all beginnings until the end comes. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we do not, b
Jan Ellison
Jul 22, 2014 Jan Ellison rated it it was amazing
I spent the last two days deep in the world of Robin Black's Life Drawing. I could barely make myself turn the last few pages--so desperate was I for a different ending than the one I knew, from page one, was coming. Now that I have turned the last page, held it to my chest, and wept, I want to read it all over again.

What a brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking novel. It does what only the best books do--reminds us that there is no experience as exquisite, as immersive, as transformative, as being
Jan 31, 2015 Trish rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I marked this as fiction, but it felt stultifyingly like some like of memoir. Oh dear. Black should get two stars for being able to get the thing done, but I don’t want to encourage her. There is a painter as the main character in this book. Augusta, or Gus as others call her, paints from life. She can’t really imagine someone or something onto her canvas. Gus is best at detail work. Her husband, Owen, is a writer with writer’s block. My guess is that Black knows more than she should about both ...more
Diane Yannick
Sep 08, 2014 Diane Yannick rated it it was amazing
"In the days leading up to my husband Owen's death, he visited Alison's house every afternoon." So begins this wonderful novel that digs deep into marriage, creativity and the human soul. Gus and Owen seclude themselves to figure out what remains of their marriage after a gut-ripping betrayal. How their creativity, which is also their livelihood, is affected by the discords in their marriage is thoughtfully dissected. The dialog fleshes out the characters as you hear what is not being said just ...more
Terri Jacobson
Jul 29, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
This was my first introduction to Robin Black, and I have to say I was impressed. Life Drawing is both a compelling story and a beautifully written book about the serious issues of life. The story begins with the narrator, Gus, reflecting on the recent death of her husband, Owen, and goes on to tell the story of that death. The reality of the situation slowly unfolds. There are intense human relationships, including one with a father slowly advancing in dementia, portrayed. The prose is rich and ...more
Life Drawing opens in present-day, but then rewinds a bit to slowly and thoroughly catch the reader up on all that transpired to lead up to that point. The writing is slow and calm, and for a while I forgot the main event that the story was leading back up to until I got there and then I was like, OMG! What just happened??? I didn't mind though; the writing is nothing short of beautiful. The descriptions of the various emotions cycling through this story are amazing and allow the reader to easil ...more
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“There are often two conversations going on in a marriage. The one that you’re having and the one you’re not.” 6 likes
“By forty, is there anyone who hasn’t had to recognize that happiness, as understood by youth, is illusory? That the best one can hope for is an absence of too many tragedies and that the road through the inevitable grief be, if not smooth, then steady?” 5 likes
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