Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Recommendation: "Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbeaking Life"

Natalie Dykstra's Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) is another of those books I've had the privilege to anticipate for a long time. The author did much of her research for the book in collections held at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and I certainly delivered more than a few boxes to her table in the reading room during my time there. So I know just how long and how diligently she's been working on this book, and I am really just incredibly pleased at the result. I had a difficult time reading the last few pages (on the train home from New York the other day) because of the tears in my eyes.

Gilded and heartbreaking. No two adjectives could better describe the life of Clover Adams than these. Stung from a much-too-young age by a series of horrific family tragedies, partner in a complicated marriage, and too often remembered, if at all, only as a famous woman who committed suicide.

Dykstra has gone to great lengths to bring Clover's life into full view, providing much-needed family context and background, highlighting her deep and meaningful relationships with her father and others that sustained her through many years, and, above all, examining Clover's use of photography during the last few years of her life and how that art allowed her to express herself in a way that she couldn't otherwise.

Drawing on a wide range of archival materials, some previously published and others published here for the first time, Dykstra is able to tell Clover's own story, and she does it very elegantly indeed. A beautiful, sad, delight the whole way through.

No comments: