The Forest Lover
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The Forest Lover

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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,679 ratings  ·  293 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...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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Cathy
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
Sunshine
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!
Joje
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...more
Kathy
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...more
Rose
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
Jill
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
Rebecca
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
Scilla
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
Debra
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...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?
Kathie
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....
Sissy
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.
Carl
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.
Jana
Stilted fomulaic writing. A disappointment. More like a romance novel than good historical fiction.
Judy
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...more
Irene
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 A 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...more
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
Patricia
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
Linda
Emily Carr lived in British Columbia in the early years of the 20th century, an introverted daughter unlike her three sisters, living under the rule of a domineering father. She befriended a Squamish Indian woman named Sophie Frank and found herself drawn to the Indian cultures, at a time when the Canadian government was trying to force the Indians to give up their native traditions. Her relationship with Sophie is an important thread throughout the book. After spending time in Paris taking art...more
Lisa H.
Novelized treatment of the life of Canadian artist Emily Carr. Carr somehow managed to escape both the narrowness of her upbringing and the bigotry of her time (late 1800s-early 1900s) and devoted herself to portraying the indigenous people and landscapes of her native British Columbia.

Anyone who has ever dipped more than a toe into waters of artistic expression will recognize the truth in Vreeland's portrayal of the frustrations of not being able to make an art piece "sing" - to achieve the vis...more
Francine Ang
I was so excited when I picked this book up. I really enjoyed Girl in Hyacinth Blue and thought this book would be as good. Big disappointment.

I was only able to read the first 50 pages and then I had to give up. I could not get into the characters or the story- I was especially disappointed with the character of Emily. I felt Vreeland did a poor job of telling us who she was- other than she likes nature and native cultures. I found everything about the writing dull and drab- from her descriptio...more
Mary
This novel relates the story of Emily Carr, a painter from British Columbia who was deeply committed to capturing native totem poles and culture as the government moved to assimilate natives and remove non Christian influences from them by forcibly removing them. She was a very courageous and odd woman for her time and did not have an easy life or much respect for her art. However, she was eventually recognized as a Canadian original and became one of Canada's most revered artists. She did not h...more
Julie
I listened to "The Forest Lover" by Susan Vreeland a few years before I recommended it to my book club to read. Some of my book club members did not realize that Emily Carr was a real artist until they saw all of the art books with her work that I checked out from the library for our meeting. I must admit that I did not know who Emily Carr was until I listened to the book and began searching for her work.

Emily Carr grew up in Victorian British Columbia with her strict parents and four sisters. A...more
Dana
Emily Carr is one of West Coast Canada's renown painters. Carr from a very early start knew she was different. She spurned her father's attempts to get her to be 'proper' and settle down into the rigid rules of early 21st century life. After her father's death she then went against her elder sister's wishes by escaping society. She travelled the West Coast painting forests and about the native tribes. Happening upon totem poles changed her life as she became obsessed with documenting the poles o...more
Emily
This is a fictionalized account of part of Canadian painter Emily Carr's life and work. I didn't previously know very much about Carr, apart from the fact that she was a Canadian woman painter around the turn of the (20th) century. The novel starts when Emily is already in her 30s, having studied art and painted for many years, and finally gaining some independence from her rather stifling family after the deaths of her parents. Her sisters strongly disapprove of her artistic passion, but Emily...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
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Girl in Hyacinth Blue Clara and Mr. Tiffany The Passion of Artemisia Luncheon of the Boating Party Life Studies: Stories

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