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The Forest Lover

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  2,049 ratings  ·  332 reviews
In her acclaimed novels, Susan Vreeland has given us portraits of painting and life that are as dazzling as their artistic subjects. Now, in The Forest Lover, she traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who?more than Georgia O?Keeffe or Frida Kahlo?blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force i ...more
Published (first published 2004)
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I started this book several years ago, before I knew anything about Emily Carr, and couldn't finish it. Not knowing that many of the characters and situations were based on fact, I found it all too maudlin. Discouraged artist, downtrodden native cultures, stereotypes galore. It was like looking at a reflection, feeling that you're missing something critical, but not sure you really care. Since then, I've "discovered" Emily Carr and rank her among my favorite artists. Her paintings of northwest c ...more
Cynthia Neale
Susan Vreeland is a glorious author and a favorite because I love historical fiction (and write it myself). To learn about various artists (or events or people in history) of the past through story deepens my understanding and delights me. This book is about Emily Carr who was a pioneer woman artist in the Pacific Northwest and who sought to overcome not only the prejudices of a woman artist traveling into untamed country, but to overcome the prejudices against the indigenous, native people and ...more
This is my favorite Vreeland book! It was given to me by my boyfriend's Grandmother. She said it's a book worth passing on. She was right! Living in British Columbia, where Emily Carr found her love of painting, just makes this book even better! After reading this book, I went to the gallery to gawk at her paintings. This is one Canadian artist that everyone should know about. Vreeland does a wonderful job of creating Emily Carr. I only wish I could have known her!
Clarissa Simmens
Imagine painting with mosquitos thick as fur on your hands. Or standing in a deserted village of silence, surrounded by trees with ancient coffins splitting apart. Or staring up at 60-foot totem poles carved with Eagles, Ravens, Bears and Whales trying to communicate their message. Or being scrutinized by a 20-foot ogress—Dzunukwa—with nipples carved into Eagles’ heads with eyes and beaks. In The Forest Lover, Susan Vreeland gives us more than a biography of the painter Emily Carr. She gives us ...more
Apr 17, 2010 Joje rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Saskia, Claude
Recommended to Joje by: Nina, Keri
Quite a lot about the place and time is woven well into the fictionalized biography. The characters become real in the course of the action and preparing the setting, which does not always happen in this sort of biographical writing. A very upbeat read, too.
Citation that might give a feeling for the best and less best: "On the last night before Emily's return to Paris to collect her canvases and winter clothes, she and Frances lingered at the restaurant on the quay, sharing a tureen of mussels
This was the book that inspired my interest in Emily Carr, a famous early 20th century artist from British Columbia, who traveled up the coast to paint the Native American villages and totem poles. She also painted dramatic scenes of old growth forest and depressing scenes of cut forest landscapes. Her painting evolved from representational to a more "Fauvist" style as she became acquainted with other artists, and her own sense of emotional connection with her subjects grew. This is a fictional ...more
Ron Charles
Canadian painter Emily Carr once said, "Nobody could write my hodge-podge life but me." With self-effacing humor, she claimed that biographers couldn't "be bothered with the little drab nothings that have made up my life."

To Susan Vreeland, who's quickly become America's most popular biographer of famous artists, that must have sounded like an irresistible challenge. Her bestselling “Girl in Hyacinth Blue" followed the life of a single Vermeer painting from the 20th century back to its creation
If being completely honest, I wasn't taken or impressed with "The Forest Lover" in the long haul, and much of the reason isn't because that Susan Vreeland wasn't a talented writer in some respects or even that Emily Carr's story isn't remotely interesting to hear. I was put off by the mundane portrayals, wandering/fragmented portrayal and the stereotypical coats that plagued this work. Really - this woman has a absolutely interesting life and it's presented in this way? I learned more about Emil ...more
A Christmas gift from a dear friend, this book was a gift many times over. Vreeland writes, "How can we think that other things pressing in on our lives excuse us from gratitude?"Emily Carr, the Canadian artist, is visiting Harold, in a mental institution. They are looking at the dogwood blossoms outside. So much about her painting, her friendships with Sophie and Harold, her brief encounters with Claude du Bois, her courage, her willingness to take risks, her independence, her struggles of bein ...more
I picked this up because I wanted to learn more about Emily Carr. I did and I didn't. Susan Vreeland's writing style in The Forest Lover demonstrates what happens when a popular middlebrow author attempts to write what he or she thinks is "arty" prose: an artificial herky-jerky mess. Like E.L. Doctorow's treatment of the Collyer brothers in Homer and Langley, Vreeland changed many basic facts about the Canadian artist's life. This artifice is completely unnecessary. Yet again, a very real, very ...more
This is a well written novel about the life of Emily Carr, a British Columbian painter in the early 1900's. The book was very moving. Emily loved the forests and the Indians of Bristish Columbia and painted many totem poles and Indian villages before the artifacts and the Indian cultures disappeared. She travelled to places where even white men hadn't gone, and was not accepted in the white society of the time and place. I liked having a map of the British Columbian coast in end pages. My major ...more
Emily Carr was a Canadian artist consumed by the art of the west coast First Nations, despite opposition from her family and the art establishment.

Ms Vreeland has a very interesting artist to profile in this novel, but the whole thing felt facile and without any deep examination. Usually one of her books leaves me with a sense of deeper understanding of what drove the artist. Not so here.

The only reason that I can say that I am glad to have listened to this book is that it drove me to look for C
Pat Jennings
Fictionalized account of American painter, Emily Carr, who studied in Paris, influenced by the impressionists, went on to paint and honor the tribes and traditions of the Northwestern native Americans. Emily Carr painted beautifully the verdant landscapes of British Columbia. It was not until she was into her fifties that she was recognized for her art. So glad to know more about the few women painters of early to mid 20th century.
Eleanor Cowan
In her inspiring biography of Canadian artist Emily Carr, Susan Vreeland introduces us to a determined and self-directed young woman so immediately that a sense of friendship with this brave, gutsy and talented Canadian artist is formed. Emily's family life (I visited her family house in Victoria) was distressing, and yet, despite all of her disappointments, Emily sought her own happiness in her art.
Even during a long period when she had to rent rooms, cook meals for her roomers, and board dogs
Just before we left for a week-long cruise, I received word from my local library that two books I had requested were available for me. One was just so-so, and the other by Sue Monk Kidd The Invention of Wings kept me immersed from cover to cover. I searched for others that were available now, without a hold, and this one looked as though it might be interesting. And it was. It, too, kept me reading through its pages from cover to cover until I was done. Two books in two days, and barely a word ...more
Frances Fuller
I really want to give it one star since it is a composite of all the things I despise about narrative versus substance in a "biography." Here is a book about a remarkable artist shrouded in imaginary conversations peopled with characters that may or may not have been part of her life. Why?
This is a fascinating fictionalized biography of Emily Carr, a woman of the repressive Victorian era, who overcame the disapproval of her family and society at large to follow her passion of capturing the disappearing culture of the native tribes of British Columbia in art. In particular, she wanted to record the totem poles that were quickly disappearing even at that time, but even more, she worked to paint in a way that would provide the viewer with an emotional reaction to the subject. She st ...more
"Paintings are inspired by nature, true, but made in the artist's soul. That's why no two individuals see the same thing and express it alike.To attempt to reproduce France or Canada without filtering it through one's sensibilities is mere copy work, done by people worried over the number of leaves on a tree. Though they may have harmonized their colors, they have not plumbed for the feel." --- Emily Carr

And so Emily Carr answered her naysayers who critiqued her work. She was a woman far beyond
This would be a 4 1/2 star book. Really enjoyed the story of painter Emily Carr and her life spent striving to distill the essence of her British Columbia surroundings in her art. I'll be hunting down more books about her....
so far, into the story and NOT that into the author's voice. maybe it will pick up....
update months later, i can't slog through this eventhough the story itself is compelling.
This was our community read book for 2011. I enjoyed getting to know more about this very prominent Northwest/Canadian artist, but I did not enjoy Vreeland's telling.
This is on my favorite books list. I've read (listened to) it twice and have become an Emily Carr fan. Unfortunately when I was in Victoria, BOTH TIMES, her home was not open due to the season I visited, but I got to see some of her work at the Royal Museum.

This is a really amazing story about an artist who traveled to wonderful places for her art, who studied with the impressionists in Paris, who lived among the Native Americans to see their world and who painted with colors that people didn't
Stilted fomulaic writing. A disappointment. More like a romance novel than good historical fiction.
The writing is annoyingly simple, but I do admire Emily Carr.
Book Concierge
Emily Carr was a pioneering painter, choosing as her subject the lush landscape and pre-European history of British Columbia. She focused her efforts first on recording the incredible art of the First Nations clans, especially as expressed in their totem poles, but soon expanded to capturing the spirit of the place - the serenity, power and life’s blood of the centuries-old forests that surrounded her. The path she chose was not an easy one. She refused to conform to the expectations of the whit ...more
Patty Mccormick

Emily Carr is a young woman from British Columbia with a passion for painting. She is a no-nonsense kind of girl who doesn’t fit in with her sister’s high society crowd. Her father states that he wishes he had never given her that paint set. Painting is a hobby for women, not a respectable way to make a living. The book takes place during a time when women got married and disappeared into the woodwork. When Emily becomes involved with Claude du Bois, a fur trader and outdoorsman, things become c
Jan 21, 2010 Irene rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers, people interested in native art, impressionist painting, and British Columbia.
I hoped to learn more sbout the life of Emily Carr, one of Canada's early Impressionist painters, and I did but I found the book more superficial than I'd hoped. She was a fascinating woman, many years ahead of her time, attracted to native art and culture during a period when many whites were sending children to "residential schools" where they were pressured to give up the old ways and language and become "Christianized". What was it that so attracted her to this aboriginal culture? How was sh ...more
Marilyn Hudson
At first glance, the book did not appeal it seemed to be one of those dry biographical fictions of a boring person with whom I could never find any connections.

Sleepless and the book handy, I started it....and quickly found myself drawn into the life of artist Emily Carr by author Vreeland's depection of Carr's strong personality and the vivid descriptions of the Pacific Northwest...the Great Western edge of the Canadian provinces.

Trained to create nice womanly watercolors and safe pastoral vi
Lisa Murray
This book is dense, rich and lush like the forest Vreeland names her book for. This text chronicles the demise of indigenous groups in northwestern Canada. I have studied this part of history in the US. Sadly Vreeland shows us the same devastating pattern in Canada. Native beliefs are forcibly squealched by missionaries and government agencies. Young children are taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools; they are punished for speaking anything besides English. European diseases wrea ...more
I first heard of Emily Carr when reading Louise Penny's Three Pines series. Clara, the self taught artist is facing an emotional crisis as her art is about to be displayed to a much larger audience than the work of her very educated artist husband. Clara seeks answers by travelling to Vancouver to sit at the base of the statue of Emily Carr. Then I found The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, a fictional story of the life of Emily Carr. This book emphasizes Carr’s travels into the vast forests of t ...more
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Susan Vreeland is an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languag ...more
More about Susan Vreeland...
Girl in Hyacinth Blue Clara and Mr. Tiffany The Passion of Artemisia Luncheon of the Boating Party Lisette's List

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“Think hard before you begin, then enter the work.” 3 likes
“She sat very still, listening to a stream gurgling, the breeze soughing through upper branches, the melodious kloo-klack of ravens, the nyeep-nyeep of nuthatches - all sounds chokingly beautiful. She felt she could hear the cool clean breath of growing things - fern fronds, maple leaves, white trillium petals, tree trunks, each in its rightful place.” 3 likes
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