What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist
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SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. Novel titled "A portrait of the artist as a young woman"? [s]

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message 1: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments A novel I read in the late 1990s/early 2000s. I feel sure it was called "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman" (or maybe "by a young woman") but I can't seem to find any fiction books with that title.

It was about a young woman whose father was an artist and had severe mental health problems. I seem to remember he made artworks which involved tiny clay figures chained together. He was very withdrawn, had fits of rage and was difficult to live with.

I think his daughter was also an artist, who had a difficult relationship with her father and worried that his mental health issues were hereditary. One theme was the question of whether artists have to be depressed to be true geniuses. The story was from the daughter's perspective.

I think the cover was brown, with the title written in white in a font that looked like handwriting, there may also have been small drawings/photos scattered around.

The reason I am so convinced of the title is that I can picture it on the book cover - but can't seem to track it down anywhere. It's definitely not the nonfiction book by Linda Huf which keeps coming up in my search results.


message 2: by Kris (last edited Oct 31, 2014 04:48AM) (new)

Kris | 34340 comments Mod
A long shot - could it be a short story in a collection such as Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl by John Quinn?

Abebooks.com has an image - http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookD...

The seller's description reads, "144 pp. Trade paperback... illustrated with black and white plates. This contains self-portraits of childhood in Ireland by: Maeve Binchy; Clare Boylan; Polly Devlin; Jennifer Johnston; Molly Keane; Mary Lavin; Joan Lingard; Dervla Murphy; and Edna O'Brien." [i.e., female writers]

Rachel, what type of artist is the woman?
How old is she? Is her mother in the story?
What's the location/country?


message 3: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments Thanks for the suggestion, but it's not the one. The book I read was definitely a fiction novel by one author, no photos.

I'm not sure what type of artist the woman is - or even if she is one. I seem to remember she felt overshadowed by her father, that and the book title suggest she did something artistic. Could also have been a writer or something similar.

I think the main character is a teenager and the novel follows her into her early twenties. I don't remember anything about her mother - perhaps dead, separated or just not overly involved in the story?

The setting was either British or American, I think.


message 5: by Tab (new)

Tab (tabbrown) | 4967 comments A couple of guesses
Portrait Of The Walrus By A Young Artist
There is a cover with white font Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist by Laurie Foos
Description:A young woman who has devoted her life to the art her late father created abandons aesthetics when her mother marries a bowling alley magnate.

Unfinished Portrait of Jessica by Richard Peck Unfinished Portrait of Jessica
Description:A trip to Mexico to visit the divorced vagabond father whom she idolizes cures fourteen-year-old Jessica of certain illusions and helps her reconstruct her relationship with her mother.

What was the tone of the book? Funny, serious, reflective, etc?
Time Period/Location story takes place?


message 6: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments None of the above, but thanks for trying!

The tone of the book was quite serious and sad, kind of psychological/reflective.

The location I'm pretty sure was either USA or the UK. Unsure of the exact time period, but definitely late 20th century, no earlier than the 1960s. I think it was set slightly before the time I read it, which was probably late 1990s.


message 7: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments bump


message 8: by Anna (last edited Jan 07, 2015 08:49AM) (new)

Anna | 207 comments Your description of the cover sounds a little like Margaret Forster's Keeping the World Away, but the rest of the details mostly don't fit...


message 9: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments The cover of the Margaret Forster book does have a slightly similar feel, with the kind of scrapbooky illustrations, but the cover of the book I am looking for is much plainer and a shade of pale brown. Assuming I am remembering it correctly of course! Thanks for your suggestion.


message 10: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel | 1529 comments You know, on second thoughts I think this must have been Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist! Moving this to solved. Thanks for your help.


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