Gravity of Birds (Guzeman)

The Gravity of Birds 
Tracy Guzeman, 2013
Simon & Schuster
304 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781451689761



Summary
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 kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Tracy Guzeman lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Vestal Review, and Glimmer Train Stories. The Gravity of Birds is her first novel. (From the publisher.)



Book Reviews
If literary fiction is on the verge of extinction...Tracy Guzeman's The Gravity of Birds ought to inspire new hope for an endangered species. With its deft interweaving of psychological complexity and riveting narrative momentum, with its gorgeous prose and poetic justice, Guzeman's book is about sibling rivalry, tragedies, and resurrections. And it's irresistibly exquisite.
San Francisco Chronicle


The captivating prose of Tracy Guzeman’s first novel instantly pulls you into the lives of the Kessler sisters, Alice and Natalie, and their intertwined love story with Thomas Bayber, an attractive young artist. Forty years later, as Bayber lies dying, he sends two trusted, but disparate, colleagues to find a missing painting that the Kessler sisters possess. Clandestine love affairs, painterly clues and a world of untruths come seamlessly together in this exceptional debut.
Minneapolis Star Tribune


A compelling debut....This book is about details and secrets—and possessing the perceptiveness to notice how details can reveal secrets....Guzeman creates flesh-and-blood characters that readers come to care about.
Cleveland Plain Dealer


In this richly textured novel, two young sisters encounter art and their sensuality under the watchful gaze of a seductive painter. Forty-four years later, when a never-before-seen portrait of them is unveiled, a complex web of jealousy and heartache is exposed.
Oprah Magazine


In this riveting debut novel, a famous artist-recluse unveils a 40-year-old painting never shown before, then sends collectors on a scavenger hunt to locate two teenage girls who posed for him, but disappeared decades ago.
Good Housekeeping


Talented...ncredibly assured...her cast of endearing eccentrics and her stellar prose will win a loyal audience.
Booklist


When Thomas Bayber...runs into the Kessler sisters during a 1963 summer vacation, he unknowingly seals all their fates.... The narrative shifts to 2007.... [with Bayber] unveiling a portrait....based on that long-ago Kessler sketch.... [It] is part of a triptych: There are two other panels out there somewhere…but where?... At times burdened by overblown prose and the weight of its own ambitions, this novel exhibits, particularly in characterization and dialogue, glimmers of genius.
Kirkus Reviews



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