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The Matisse Stories

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,682 ratings  ·  137 reviews
In this elegant set of stories, three modern women are touched in different ways by the paintings of Henri Matisse. A distinguished professional reflects on her own faded beauty; a harried housewife attempts to release her creativity; and an anorexic art student ponders suicide while confronting Matisse's nudes.
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published December 12th 1991)
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Another wonderful short-story collection from Byatt. As always, her descriptions of everyday life and items are exceptional. Having just visited a Matisse exhibition a couple of months ago, learning more about his paintings and his temperament was very interesting. I had no idea Matisse was considered to be a misogynist, for example. The main theme of this book is of course art, pretty fitting as I consider Byatt to be an artist of words. She's also a very knowledgeable writer and reading these ...more
May 24, 2013 Jonfaith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonfaith by: Ceridwen Sock Puppet
My glibly tossed five stars register an exquisite afternoon as much as this collection of three jewels from Dame Byatt. All three caught me unexpected. Medusa's Ankle's recalled the lead story in Pulse by Julian Barnes, though I could be mistaken, perhaps I am thinking of The Lemon Table. Oh well the self-awareness was piercing. Art Work is brillaintly realized work, one which may have been a marvelous novel. The Chinese Lobster likewise was transportive, though it was more whispered verse than ...more
A ritual Japan celebrates every year is blossom viewing. Before it really becomes warm, everyone is daydreaming of a slow wave of cherry blossoms blushing from the south to the north of Japan, in the wake of the gradual thermal tsunami known as Spring.

One can imagine that it is not the Japanese contemplating the cherry trees--but the trees themselves, opening their trillions of little floral eyes to take in the Japanese--that had long ago instituted the ritual of viewing the blossoms. In anci
You don't have to be an expert on Matisse or of art theory to understand and appreciate this rich collection of three stories by A.S. Byatt. In each story, Byatt frames a scenario with a Matisse painting in such a way that the story is not about the painting itself, but of the characters and they way life is reflected as if looking through a piece of art. The prose is lush in color and texture. Although art and art history are sprinkled throughout, these subjects aren't forced in a dry way and f ...more
This book reminds me of Murakami's volume of short stories called "After the Quake". Just like all the stories in that volume are not about the quake, and this phenomenon is just the background common theme to the stories, Byatts stories are not about Matisse, nor do they involve the painter in any way. What they have in common is Matisse's works of art: in the first story, a woman chooses her hairdresser's salon after she sees a Matisse painting inside (The Rosy Nude), the second story is portr ...more
The Matisse Stories are a collection of Byatt’s modern stories, which I have set my mind to investigating throughout the coming year. This is a short volume of stories that are all influenced in some way by the art of French artist Henri Matisse, developer of Fauvism. [When I hear mention of Matisse, The Goldfish painting comes to mind, the only framed print of his work that I own and see regularly.]

Byatt incorporates ideas of Matisse’s art, but they aren’t “themes” of the stories. The stories a
Sep 10, 2007 Ashley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you and you and you
Shelves: fiction
Byatt is probably my favorite author. Everything she writes is so elegant and an advertisement for the depth and breadth of her knowledge. But these stories are my favorite. Especially the one about the middle aged woman at the hair salon. Byatt is an expert at conveying the insecurities of a woman who feels her looks are starting to go (which are really everyone's insecurities) and gets lost in the fantastic tales of her flamboyant hair stylist. Color and texture are important in all the storie ...more
I picked this up from the library on a whim. It's a slim book, ie just right for someone with no free time, and I was intrigued by the concept. I'm more aware of Matisse's cut out work, having seen the Tate exhibition earlier in the year but these three short stories seemed to be inspired by his painting which I don't know as well. Nevertheless I found a lot to connect with. The first story slid past me somewhat, perhaps because I read it on the train. The second and the third however resonated ...more
Louis Arata
Byatt has become one of my favorite authors, ever since reading The Children’s Book and Possession. While her style is distinctly her own, it somehow reminds me of George Eliot, another of my favorite authors. Byatt’s care in examining human motivations within social contexts is profound. Her characters have rich internal lives, often kept highly private, and live in a world resplendent with crafted artistry.

Byatt’s backgrounds are full of beads, cups, cloths, paintings, texts that burst with co
Annmarie Sheahan
I picked up this short collection of Byatt stories used at my favorite bookstore last weekend, mostly because I was intrigued by the premise of short stories inspired by Matisse paintings. In the past, I've found Byatt's novels to be rather clunky, wordy, and a bit pretentious, but I've liked her shorter works, and so I thought I would give this a try.

Byatt is a true artist of words, and she writes beautifully. That being said, the first two stories in this collection didn't really hold my inte
Charles Bechtel
I am often depressed by AS Byatt after reading the works, and not because of the works. What depresses me is her focus of narrative subject. She has the knack of selecting the least interesting participant of her stories as the one with which to identify. In The Matisse Stories, she successfully finds the most boring, dithery and dullest women on whom to lavish attention. What depresses me even more is that she disappoints me, in that she has an obvious and marvelous narrative talent, but no tas ...more
I'm always torn with A.S. Byatt. I absolutely adore some of her work; I'm looking forward to revisiting Ragnarök some day soon, and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye is one of the most gorgeous things I've ever read. On the other hand, Possession? Couldn't even get halfway through. The Matisse Stories were somewhat in between for me. Not exciting, perhaps, but engaging in the way that Byatt is engaging: She has a talent for taking small, unexceptional things and getting into their depths. Of co ...more
I assigned this book to a reading class. The class was all from the inner city, and they all enjoyed the stories so much so that even the quiet ones discussed them in class. It speaks heavily for Byatt's writing style that her work can connect with students who have such a different background than hers.
There should be a green star for "read it, but don't remember a thing about it," altho that in itself is sort of a review.
Lindsey Stefan
Each story references or centers on a piece by the artist Henri Matisse.
The first is entitled “Medusa’s Ankles.” Susannah is a middle aged translator who picks Lucian’s hairdressing shop because of the Matisse painting she sees through the window. Her time in the salon causes her to reflect on aging and her relationship with her husband.
The second story is “Art Work.” Debbie is a former artist who now works as a design editor for a woman’s magazine so that her husband can continue to create hi
Karen Williams
If there is one thing to be said about this very small collection of stories, it is that A.S. Byatt herself is a artist, not only with words, but with paint and brush. Her knowledge of colour schemes seem to pop out at you while describing the smallest things in the most oddest scenes. Even when describing the most outrages of outfits worn by one her characters, a Mrs. Sheba Brown, who's own visual paint palette is notably obscure, is most beautifully described in a mesh of tinted vividness.

Tim Cole
Reason for reading:
While on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales I visited a number of secondhand bookshops and bought rather a lot of books… this was one of them. AS Byatt won the Booker Prize in 1990 for Possession. What would this offer? A quick glance and the concept had captured my imagination… an impulse buy that worked out well.

About the book:
Three short stories tied together in a straightforward way. All of them, to a greater or lesser degree, have an association with a painting by Matisse. Le
A short, savory little tome. I read it all in two sittings yesterday, ravenously finishing the last piece on the subway home. These are relatively quiet stories, something I take to be part of the project's investment in capturing a kind of experiential tableau (like the Matisse pieces framing each tale). Each story features an obsessional impulse towards Matisse or art that brings the characters to some sort of revelatory moment. In two of the tales, this insight leads to a kind of break from q ...more
I was drawn to this book of short stories because A.S. Byatt has been a favorite ever since "Possession."
The title intrigued me because I have a very special connection to the art of Henri Matisse. So inspired by his paintings, I even named one of my cats after him. I was interested to see how the lives of the characters of these stories were affected by his art and colors as well.
All three stories in the book are very atmospheric and filled with vivid imagery.
My favorite story in the collection
Three stories inspired by the work of Matisse in exhilarating and interesting ways. Very human, very clever, and a tribute to the high arts and their meaning in life. The sweet little hardback is illustrated by Matisse line drawings, and the dust cover shows some of the Matisse paintings important to the stories in full color. I believe what I liked best (besides Byatt's prose) is the way Byatt shows how important looking and seeing are to writers as well as painters.
A shorter and somehow more subdued collection than Elementals and Djinn in the Nightingale's eye, but still executed with Byatt's typical knack for psychology and aesthetics. The first story in the collection feels unusually simple and clumsy, at least in its plot. The third one is an interesting conversation on feminism and rape culture that feels pretty drat contemporary. Byatt puts remarkable potency into a polite lunch table conversation.
An afternoon well-spent I would say.

Three short but powerful stories, each inspired by a work by Matisse, which do not require you to be an expert on Matisse to appreciate and enjoy.

Each story is told through the eyes of a different middle aged female protagonist (who can be somebody straight out of a Matisse painting), who finds herself in juxtaposition with a man who can only be described as self-absorbed.
No, l didn't like this very much at all. I've already professed a lack of interest in Matisse, but it wasn't so much that.. It's more to do with the fact that these are meditations on womanhood, ultimately, and she and I are very different in our expressions of it. -- I agreed with her thoughts on agism. But then she seemed to make the argument that it's curves and violently passionate carnality that truly make one a woman. I've never had curves and I prefer a more gentle sexuality. Really, it's ...more
Glenna Barlow
I don't always like short stories but the matisse connection and byatt's reputation encouraged me to give this a shot. also, as a museum person, I'm a sucker for writing inspired by works of art. while I still am not too enamored of the short story format, I think these showed a remarkable amount of character development and gave you real insight into the complex minds of the (usually) women involved. a nice, thoughtful read.
As usual, A.S Byatt has left me torn up inside by the way she crafts her tales. This collection of short stories are all based on the paintings of Matisse and are all absolute gems. It’s a short collection and that’s all it needs to be. It’s beautiful and terrifying, subtle and harsh. The best stories are.
Everything she writes is so skillful. And I love this sweet edition, three stories in a tiny book with line drawings by Matisse. As a middle-aged lady myself, it is always refreshing to read fiction that reflects the realities of middle-aged life. The themes are deeper than that though, art, success, despair, decay. Definitely worth reading.
I was expecting something a little more experimental from these three Matisse-linked short stories but this is really straight ahead popular fiction - all details drive the narrative, the characters are very clear cut, the plots have very definite crescendos etc. Not badly written at all but not my thing.
Wonderfully written, I really moved with Byatt's prose, felt her voice the way she formed her sentences (after A Room of One's Own I am particularly observant of these things) I also seem to understand Woolfe's comment on women reading woman literature - it does seem to flow much better - although a very crude generalization, of course, almost useless. Perhaps I should say that when reading Austen's Northanger Abbey, Woolfe's A Room of One's Own and the Matisse Stories very soon after one anothe ...more
на самом деле, судя по всему, я прочитала ее не всю, а часть из нее и часть из Little Black Book of Stories. как бы там ни было, переводы закончились, пора браться за оригинальные романы.
(алсо, фолловер, если ты еще не читал даму Антонию, бросай все и открывай "Обладать"!)
A charming miniature. Three stories, of which the first and second wonderful. The second, titled Art Work, is about a man who draws a table with with one of every color. Charming, lovely description of the {?} impact of color.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please, add book cover 3 10 Mar 15, 2015 04:41AM  
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A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize winner Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Ey ...more
More about A.S. Byatt...
Possession The Children's Book Angels and Insects The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye The Virgin in the Garden

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