Lauren's Reviews > The Great Man

The Great Man by Kate Christensen
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Sep 15, 10

Read from August 30 to September 13, 2010

The Great Man is told from the perspective for four women, all in their golden years, whose lives are affected by the same man - Oscar Feldman: painter, genius, artist, manwhore - and the legacy he has left behind following his death, a couple years prior to when this novel takes place. There is Teddy, Oscar's long-time mistress, mother to his illegitimate twin daughters and aging sexpot (think Blanche Devereaux); Lila, Teddy's best friend and biggest admirer; Abigail, Oscar's widow and mother to his autistic son, Ethan; and Maxine, Oscar's older lesbian sister and abstract painter.

The novel is interesting in that it explores how one single man was able to get away with just about anything he wanted simply based on talent and charisma; and also how this one man profoundly affected the lives of the women around him. The author does fall victim to cliche, as the women are brought together as two biographers dredge up the past in their attempts to chronicle the great artist's life and, as a result, form a bonding friendship. However, the story still felt fresh and, at times, painfully awkward (eg: the, ahem, "elderly" love-making was something I found particularly difficult to picture in my mind's eye). Christensen's greatest accomplishment in this novel, I believe, is that she manages to develop four very likable female protagonists while still portraying the fragility and the flaws of the female ego. An interesting and entertaining read, for sure.
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