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I Always Loved You

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  4,935 ratings  ·  612 reviews
A novel of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas’s great romance from the New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter

The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging h
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Viking
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Beth It was very good. I kept looking up the paintings online to see which ones they were talking about. This was very different than anything I have read …moreIt was very good. I kept looking up the paintings online to see which ones they were talking about. This was very different than anything I have read before so it was nice to have a change.(less)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Katherine Gypson
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a testament to the power of this story and the conviction of Robin Oliveira's writing that I'm able to look back and review this book almost six months after reading it. Oliveira's first novel - My Name is Mary Sutter - is on my list of all-time favorite historical novels so when I saw that her follow-up book looked at one of my favorite times and places in history (the Belle Epoque Paris of the Impressionists), I was beyond excited.

I've been disappointed by a lot of historical novels late
4.5 stars. What a wonderful read this was. I saw it recommended on another website and was lucky enough to be able to get it from my library. An author I'd never heard of, and despite the romantic title, apparently not a romance.

But wow! Robin Oliveira is a beautiful writer. I was transported to bohemian Paris in the 1870s, to the fascinating world of the impressionist painters and their complicated relationships, with their art, and with each other.

The book focuses on (the real historical per
Jennifer King
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While I understand some of the very harsh reviews here on Goodreads so far, I believe that these reviewers have missed the heart of the book they are reviewing. Yes, I ALWAYS LOVED YOU begins slowly and the story develops quietly, but the novel as a whole is more like an Impressionist painting, which begins as a blurry image and subtly, through many layers, becomes something significant, beautiful, resonant. At least, that is my experience with reading I ALWAYS LOVED YOU by Robin Oliveira.

The re
Connie G
I Always Loved You transports us to La Belle Epoque when the American artist Mary Cassatt was painting in Paris. While the story also involves the other Impressionists, it centers on the interactions between Cassatt and her mentor, Edgar Degas. Although Degas helped her realize her potential as an artist, he could also be thoughtless and stubborn, so their relationship was very complicated and stormy. Cassatt burned their letters before she died so this story is an imaginative look at their rela ...more
Susan Vreeland
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susan by: the editor of the book
What a joy it is to be back in Belle Epoque Paris with my old artist friends, guided by the masterful pen of Robin Oliveira whose finely crafted language brings to light the complicated relationships of four of the principals of the Impressionist movement--Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot and Eduard Manet, two tortured love affairs. Only an omniscient narrator has the latitude to disclose the private yearnings and fears of these four as they grapple with issues of art execution, scat ...more

She would adore her child and tend her husband, but love, that elusive prize, had left her now. What a horror it was to be mortal, she thought, subject to such appalling weaknesses and needs. What a horror it was to be alive.

These are the reviews that are the hardest to write. If I had felt strongly about this book - on either end of the spectrum - I would have no problem putting my thoughts down. As it were, however, I Always Loved You was a novel that mo
Dec 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
After reading the author's first book, "My Name is Mary Sutter", which I loved, I was looking forward to her next book. I love novels about the art world, and I am especially interested in the period covered in this book. The new era of the impressionists, their breaking away from the established art critics of the Salon, and especially their relationship with each other is fascinating. If you are interested in artists circles like the circles around Dorothy Parker, or around F. Scott Fitzgerald ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won a copy of this through Goodreads First Reads.

I Always Loved You is (in a simplified nutshell), a fictional account of the relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, artists who were a part of the Impressionist movement in Paris.

I was initially interested in this book because I have a fine arts background. I'm familiar with the Impressionists and their work, but by name and reputation only. I was curious to see what Robin Oliveira would do with the story, how the characters would gr
The complicated relationship between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt (long my favorite painter) forms the basis for this well-researched novel’s vivid illumination of Impressionist-era Paris.

The main section spans the years 1877-1883, beginning with Mary as a 33-year-old trainee painter in Paris. She impresses many of the city’s up-and-coming artists, including Degas, and earns an invitation to her first Parisian soirée. The author brilliantly recreates the opinionated banter of this group of intel
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Mozhan Marnò

The subtitle – A Story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas – is all the synopsis anyone needs. This immediately drew my attention as I love art, the Impressionists in particular, and I love reading historical fiction about artists. Also, I loved Oliveira’s debut work: My Name is Mary Sutter . So, I had high hopes.

I liked learning more about the journey these artists took to become the icons we know today. No story focusing on these two artists could possibly be
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Personally, I think a better title would have been “I Sometimes Liked You”. I just did not buy that Mary Cassatt and Edward Degas loved each other. They liked and respected each other, admired each other’s work and collaborated well together, but the only thing they truly loved was their work.
The book has a great deal of information about the Impressionist painters and their art. It has a lot of period detail of Paris and oddly enough the medical maladies of Mary, Edward and their friends and f
Nicole Rhaven
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I got this book via First Reads for my honest review.

I Always Loved You is based off of the perplexing relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.

Robin Oliveira grabs real life people and turns them into a fictionalized whirl-wind story; she has an incredible way with words as it is extremely well written.
She takes you back to 19th century Paris, where things were much different, to where artists thrived and struggled.
Mary Cassatt is suggested that she was a great painter, but we ne
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was an American painter and printmaker, who lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists.

This story begins with Mary at the age of 33. She has been back in Paris for the last two years. As her paintings continue to be rejected for exhibitions, she has been contemplating if she should listen to her father and move back to the States.

As she is contemplating, an acquaintance of hers introduces he
Holly Weiss
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Up front, I'd like to say that I adored Robin Oliveira's debut novel, My Name is Mary Sutter.

I Always Loved You didn't quite pack the same punch. Aspects of this book are brilliant. Meticulously researched, it is a fountain of information about Impressionistic artists of the Belle Epoque era in Paris.

Mary Cassatt, American painter of women and children’s scenes travels to Paris. She meets Edgar Degas, known for capturing motion on canvas and depicting dancers. We know from the outset they have e
3.5 rounded down. You'll get a heavy dose of Edgar Degas with your Mary Cassatt in this book.

Cassatt is the impressionist painting who portrayed all those mother with fat infants.

Degas was the one who painted all the dancers.

Were they a couple? Maybe, maybe not.

But I'll tell you one thing...I sure wouldn't have lasted half a day with that guy. I certainly wouldn't have talked to him about love, if he were capable of love, if he even could love. The las
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a somewhat tedious read trying to sort characters and relations. Overall a good read but it does take time to establish where the story is going. I was not satisfied with ending just because I like happy endings and this one doesn't make you feel good by the time you finish. If you haven't read Oliveira's My Name is Mary Sutter I suggest reading that one over I Always Loved You because it is fabulous! Like I said I liked this book overall but there are some challenges with the names and ...more
Laura K. Warrell
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In a literary culture where explorations of romance are often relegated to lightweight, Hollywood–ready love stories with contrived happy endings, Robin Oliveira distinguishes herself. Her latest novel, I Always Loved You, is romantic in the truest, most intellectually compelling sense of the word. The narrative travels elegantly across the topography of love while simultaneously exploring the agony and exultation of the human experience as it manifests in life and art. The relationship between ...more
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and full of period details, this novel features American artist Mary Cassatt and her complex relationship with the talented, sometimes infuriating Edgar Degas, but the viewpoint also switches to Berthe Morisot and her brother-in-law/maybe-lover Edouard Manet, creating a broad intimate portrait of Belle Epoque Paris and the loves, doubts, struggles, triumphs, yearnings, fears, and ambitions of four painters hoping to change the direction of art. I’ve read several books on the ...more
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mary Cassatt moves to Paris in the late nineteenth century to find her place in the art world. It is the story of the impressionists. Edgar Degas, Eduoard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Monet and many others. It is about their accomplishments and frustrations and it is also about love. The author did an excellent job with her insights into the heart and soul of the artist. Beautiful written
Casee Marie
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In her new novel, I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira takes the reader to Paris in the Belle Époque and tells the story of the tumultuous relationships between the radical impressionists, centering on Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. She’s a sensible American with an untapped talent; he’s the master she’s always admired, whose work is more than paint. When Degas, uncharacteristically bewitched, begs an introduction, their lives are catapulted into a swell of emotional upheaval, of joy and loss and t ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I Always Loved You: A Novel (click book for description and product page)
By Robin Oliveira
Publication Date: 02/04/14
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4 bones

Finish time: 9 nights. After my last book (here), I was hoping for a bit of an easier read, but somehow I ended up on this one that took me almost as long. And centered around art again too. Hmmm. Not a bad thing, just kind of funny. I had a love, hate relationship with this book, but after thinking abou
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Original review found at
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Viking via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*

Historical fiction has always been one of my favourite genres so I was extremely happy to have been granted access to this book in advance of the publication date. I could not wait to dive into the story. There is no doubt that Oliveira is an amazing writer as she so eloquently describes Paris and the art world of that e
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas during a time of great changes in the art world of Paris. Mary had moved to Paris from America to pursue a career as an artist to learn for the locals. It was there that she met Edgar who offered to help her show her work. They seemed to have an a rather unusual relationship but fairly understandable for the time period. It is pretty obvious that they loved each other. However, they never seemed to be able to give each other what was needed.
Mary Jo Malo
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh the the furies and frustrations of requited and unrequited love in the lives of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet. This plausible and authentic portrait encapsulates the conflict between art as a professional obsession and the personal lives of the characters, as well as between their creative insecurity, self-assurance, and their need for acclaim. Oliveira's attention to detail creates a believable and engaging palette for engaging with the Impressionists' wo ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was torture to read. Too many characters to keep up with. No chemistry between Mary and Degas. It just fell flat for me. I just wanted it to be over.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The title are the words of Mary Cassatt about Edgar Degas, two impressionist painters who historically are known to have had a close, collaborative relationship. In this imagined story of a deep emotional connection between the two, the author builds on known history and extensive research into 1870s Paris, the Belle Epoch, to craft a beautiful, lyric story and the type of historical fiction I admire—accuracy of time, place and characters with added fiction that holds true to known facts.

I love
First sentence: Mary Cassatt lifted two shallow crates of assorted brushes, pigments, palettes, and scraping knives and set them atop the paint-smeared table shoved under the arched, north-facing windows of her untidy studio.

Premise/plow: Love art? Love history? Love art history? Don't require much actual-actual romance in your your historical romance? I Always Loved You is a fictionalized account of the friendship between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. It isn't their story alone--it is the story
Ann Woodbury Moore
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this historical novel of artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas far more than I expected. Oliveira eloquently writes of Paris in the 1870s and 1880s; the impressionist movement; family disappointments and expectations; and the creation of art itself, an extremely difficult skill. She also, as the title suggests, delves into the personal interactions of the American Cassatt, eager to please and (at first) lacking in self-confidence, and the brusque, alternately gentle and rude French Dega ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I have always loved Mary Cassatt's paintings, and the fact that she was one of the few women, and only American, to exhibit with the Impressionists in Belle Epoch Paris. This look at her relationship with Edgar Degas, and the way he influenced her development as an artist, as well as the look into the lives of the other Impressionists was fascinating. I liked how Robin Oliveira handled the personal relationships, and the art in the book spurred me to look up many paintings online. Well done. ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be transported to Paris during the lives & times of some of my favorite artists felt like a Christmas morning of my childhood. What a gift to imagine their fingers moving across the page or the canvas & feeling as if I was right there in the moment. While there are some really tragic events I have a new appreciation for the women who struggled to find a place in the art world over a century ago, a new profound love for these works they shared willingly or not & a reminder of the love I feel w ...more
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Robin Oliveira grew up just outside Albany, New York in Loudonville. She holds a B.A. in Russian, and studied at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow, Russia. She is also a Registered Nurse, specializing in Critical Care and Bone Marrow Transplant. She received an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the fiction editor for the literary magazine upstreet and a former assis ...more

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“And even if something had once been committed to paper, did it mean that it was still true? Always true? Unlike the relative permanence of paint, words were temporal. You uttered them and they evanesced, but if you wrote them, they remained, though whether the written word was any more truthful than the spoken was a mystery to her. Only paint was honest.” 8 likes
“If you are going to abandon your work because someone speaks ill of it, then it has never been your work, has it? It becomes theirs. You give it up.” 1 likes
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