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The Gravity of Birds

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  2,841 ratings  ·  466 reviews
How do you find someone who wants to be lost?

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family's summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kin
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Diane S.
3.5 A family lake house, two sisters, and a young painter living next door, who comes from a wealthy family that will not accept painting as a reliable job source. This is a quiet book, a book about things under the surface, of paintings and human hearts. About wrong decisions made that affect the future of all of them.

This book drew me in, the prose is wonderful at times, the moments shared between the characters are poignant. Misunderstandings are a the forefront of most of what happens in th
This novel tries to straddle the line between literary and commercial fiction. What the publishing gods have deemed upmarket fiction. Unfortunately for THE GRAVITY OF BIRDS, it probably tries a little too hard, and therefore doesn’t do either as effectively as if it just picked one and flew above the treetops. Instead, it crash landed into a cactus, and I was left picking needles out of my butt.

The structure proved a little confusing, with the movement between time periods, and I was prone to fo
Cassondra Windwalker
Beautifully written. The prose lilts, dips, and soars like the flight of the birds whose images run through its pages. A haunting story of the power of love, that however flawed and mysterious, must indelibly change the fate of all who experience it. Every chapter left me aching for the next. The grief bound in this book's pages was tied up with grace, so that rather being overwhelmed by sadness, the reader is bouyed by hope. These characters will stay with you long after you have finished the t ...more
I found out about 'The Gravity of Birds' by Tracy Guzeman through an email for new literary fiction from I was drawn to this particular book because of the title and the cover art. Reading the synopsis put me off because I have never been a fan of stories revolving around several characters that span scores of years. I'm older and I just don't feel that I can learn or even be surprised by anything people and characters in books do or don't do. I just don't care anymore, unfortunately ...more
Megan Readinginthesunshine
The cover of The Gravity Of Birds is truly beautiful, I loved the colours and the scene in the picture caught my attention straight away. I also was caught by the tagline “That summer, everything changed”….it had me intrigued instantly – What had changed? Who was affected? It made me very keen to start reading!

The Gravity Of Birds begins with two sisters, Alice and Natalie. Alice is a dreamer, whilst Natalie is very headstrong girl. Whilst on a holiday with their family, Alice is drawn in by Tho
Jun 09, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: publisher ARC
A love story that is less about love than about the spaces between what is seen and not seen. What lies beneath the surface is as important in The Gravity of Birds as what is evident. Sisters, a family, both torn apart and held together by their interactions with the artist Thomas Bayber. There are too many traps here for the reviewer. Anything I could say would be a spoiler.

What lies beneath the surface is as important in The Gravity of Birds as what is evident. Sisters, a family, both torn ap
Why is it sometimes easier to write what you did not like about something, versus what you did like? Like is hard to encompass sometimes, it just is.

Here are some of my fav reviews:
“The Gravity of Birds is one of those rare, exquisitely written novels that haunt you long after you’ve finished the last page. Guzeman writes of both the fragility of the human spirit and its inner strength. The book unfurls like a hidden canvas, soaked with color, emotional longing, and a desire to make sense of wh
I expected to love this. The storyline is promising—Thomas Bayber, a reclusive celebrated artist, unveils a provocative work he had hidden away for four decades: a portrait of himself and two sisters (Alice and Natalie Kessler) who summered in a lake house near his family’s vacation home. But before he will agree to sell the painting, Bayber sends the art historian who catalogued his works and a brilliant young art authenticator off on a quest to find Alice and Natalie, who seem to have disappea ...more
Allyce Cameron
Such a beautifully written and melancholy debut. All about the choices we make and how they affect our lives. Filled with descriptive imagery and three dimensional characters each with their own flaws this is a book that you won't soon forget. Jumping betweent past and present I was sorely tempted to skip chapters and read on, especially during Alice's segments, but restrained myself and everything was revealed in time. A step above the average novel I was captivated within the first chapter and ...more
I was intrigued after the first chapter, unfortunately the book went downhill from there. I found there were too many minor characters that I just did not care about. I wanted to find out about the painting as the unraveling of art history is usually quite interesting, but not here. I found this novel tedious. There were a few good chapters; when Alice gets caught in the rain, but overall, not what I thought it would be. I do think the author has a great grasp on character writing. I felt like I ...more
3/26 - Won in First Reads giveaway on Goodreads.

4/27 - Received this book in the mail today.

5/8 - Totally loved this book. It wasn't "amazing" like Goodreads says when I hover over the 5 star rating, but it was really good and really well done. I liked (and didn't like) the characters. I was drawn into the story (although it was a bit slow at the beginning) and then there were the few twists that I did not anticipate that really kicked the story and interest factor into gear for me. There's a lo
Dale Harcombe
I was looking forward to reading this as I‘d heard a bit about it. While the story was interesting and the prose at times was well written, even beautiful at times, ultimately I was left somewhat dissatisfied. This was one of those books that was interesting enough to not give up on and to keep reading to see where it was going, yet not that interesting that I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Largely for me I think the man problem was the characters. Even though, they were all well drawn, the pr ...more
The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman is a very typical book – the plot and writing are both typical, as is the progression. There was little to separate it from the rest in terms of quirkiness or creativity. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad, just something that you might want to be prepared for.

Alice is the protagonist, so a lot of The Gravity of Birds, both in the past and the present, is told from her point of view. Alice is gullible and constantly self-pitying, so she isn’t exactly someo
Aug 27, 2013 Pam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
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The Gravity Of Birds
Tracy Guzeman

My thoughts after reading this book...

This is a book about losses. Aching, blinding, heartbreaking life altering losses. This lovely book with its beautiful writing is about pain and sadness. It is also about lies and separation and choices...all of these made both with love and without love. The sadness in this book is heartbreaking because it can not be undone or made better. It's the kind of sadness that feels as though it could have been avoided if everyone
Becky Loader
I feel as if I know all the characters in Guzeman's book. She made them all visible, with their faults and foibles intact, and I was right there with them in the story. Told in chapters that correspond to different years in the development of the plot, the book unfolds quickly as a complex intertwining of places, personalities, sibling rivalry, art, deceit, and reconciliation. Two sisters and a talented young artist meet at a lake cabin, and the moment is electric. I loved the symbol of the gros ...more
Bonnie Brody
I really enjoyed this book and appreciated how much of it had to do with art and artists. Being married to an artist, the book really resonated with me despite the fact that my husband's personality is not at all like the protagonist's.

The central character in this book is Thomas Bayber, an artist of great renown but who has not painted anything for over twenty years. He is in his seventies and living as a recluse in a dark and dingy apartment in New York City. Supposedly, all of his paintings a
Abbey Liddle
Title: The Gravity of birds
Author: Tracy Guzeman
Publisher: Harpercollins UK
Publication Date: 15th August 2013

A haunting debut of love in all its forms, The Gravity of Birds perfectly
captures the devastating consequences betrayal can have through the decades, echoing right through to the present day.

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Maggie O’Farrell.

Sisters Alice and Natalie were once close, but adolescence has wrenched them apart. Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds; Natalie is headst
Though well-written with an interesting premise, The Gravity of Birds ultimately feels average and unremarkable.

In the summer of 1963, famous painter Thomas Bayber meets two sisters, Natalie and Alice, and the lives of all three change forever. Decades later in 2007, Thomas tasks a friend with finding the two sisters and two of his paintings they own, all of whom have disappeared. Told in both 2007 and various times in the past, the story slowly unravels the truth of what happened between Thoma
Katie Love
The Gravity of Birds is a story of two sisters torn apart and held together by secrets and words left unsaid, of an artist haunted by memories and regret, and ultimately a study in how the choices we make and our perceptions and misperceptions shape our experience of life. A haunting and beautifully written debut novel that explores art and artifice, what is seen and unseen, what lies below the surface and in all the spaces in between. This book will linger in your consciousness long after you h ...more
This was kind of a mystery within a mystery. A famous painter reveals that he still has a painting out there that nobody knows about, but he himself does not know it's location. An art history professor and an art authenticator are given the task to find this work of art. During their search they uncover the story behind the painting which involves two sisters who the artist befriended many years before when they vacationed in neighboring cabins one summer. The book goes back and forth between t ...more
I really enjoyed this, even though I don't think it's unreservedly great. A lot of the more serious material, dealing with Alice, to me falls kind of flat: she never really comes alive as a character, and I think Guzeman sort of cheats a lot by jumping around in time to hide some of those limitations. Likewise, there's a note of sameness to the characters' backstories here: Alice, Stephen, and Finch are all, at key moments in the novel, dealing with the grief of not exactly recent deaths, but th ...more
Tracy Guzeman's first novel is fascinating. Told from the point of view Alice Kessler, but also the point of view of two art scholars, Dennis Finch, the expert on the painting of Thomas Bayber, and Stephen Jameson, the art authenticator with more than a touch of social blindness. I am always impressed when an author succeeds in writing from the point of view of more than one main character.

At first I was drawn in by the gentle lyricism of Guzeman's language and the way the descriptions seemed to
Time taken to read - 5 days (dipping in and out as I was working a lot)

Publisher - HarperFiction

Blurb From Goodreads

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmov
Lloyd Russell
Tracy Guzeman's The Gravity of Birds - Get Your Hands on It

Tracy Guzeman's 1st novel, The Gravity of Birds, is some kind of debut. The story takes place over a 44-year period. Here is Goodreads' synopsis of the book:

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young p
This novel begins a bit slow. I almost abandoned it. The characters are intriguing, so I continued, for which I’m glad I did. It picks up in the middle and becomes very engaging at the end. It’s a story of two sisters and the art world. I learned a lot about art appraisal and portrait/art forensics. The story begins in the summer of 1963 at a family summer lake cabin. Two sisters, one 14, Alice and one 17, Natalie meet an exotic neighbor, Thomas, who is an up and coming artist. Alice is interest ...more
At first, I didn't like this book. I found some of characters rather unsettling and did not know if I really wanted to know more of their story. But I decided to pick up the book again a few days later and found myself lost in their world, trying to uncover the secrets and lies surrounding these people.

The Gravity of Birds explores the extremely complicated relationship between two sisters, especially when one sister has a disability that will always tie her sister to her. You feel pity for the

I'm sorry it took me such a long time to get to this book. What a gentle and fulfilling read it was. I was moved by the prose and the storyline all together. Ms. Guzeman has a way with words that gets to the heart of her characters. This is a novel that will live in my mind for months, I'm sure, after I've left the pages.

I was completely taken up by the gentle way we are brought into the very shaky relationships in the novel, as none of them seem to be steeped in longev
Jacki Leach
I plopped down on the couch and started reading 'The Gravity of Birds'. It grabbed me from the first sentence; the young girl, Alice, waiting the woods, hoping to catch a glimpse of their Summer neighbor, Thomas Bayber, a young up-and-coming painter. A simple scene, but one that stays with you. Author Tracy Guzeman has an elegant way of bringing the sights and smells into our consciousness; the scent of green, the cushion of moss, the snap of dried branches underfoot. But it is the stillness of ...more
I stated out not liking it but by the time I was 30 pages into it, I had absolutely changed my mind. The story shifts back and forth in time and perspective. Alice and Finch tell their stories and they meet up at the end in a finale you won't soon forget. The secondary characters are wonderfully drawn and there is just enough technical explanation about art that you get Bayber's talent without being overwhelmed by too much detail. Its set in contemporary world so the world building is already th ...more
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“Before too much longer I’ll forget her minute imperfections. That’s what you end up missing the most, those little faults. They burrow under your skin. Become endearing in retrospect.” 19 likes
“The older I get, the less I enjoy the presence of other people.” 8 likes
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