I had attempted to read How To Paint A Dead Man once before but the timing wasn't just right for me and I could not get into it. I knew I would most likely enjoy it though - when the time was right - and I am glad that I came back to it.
How To Paint A Dead man tells the story of 4 main characters across time periods and countries(once again, like Hearts and Minds which I reviewed yesterday, the characters are all interlinked in some way).
There is an elderly painter living in Italy in the 1960's, coming to the end of his career and his life. A young Italian girl who has become blind through a degenerative illness - a former student of the painter. A middle aged artist who has written to the famous painter looking for advice and guidance early on in his career and his adult daughter, Sue- drowning in grief after the sudden and traumatic death of her twin brother. Each character has their own sections or chapters in the book which are told in turn.
This was a painful book to work through - brilliant writing but so sad in it's outlook that I struggled at times. Even at the end of the book I was hard pressed to find a glimmer of hope despite the obvious indicated by the ending of the final chapter.
The writing however kept me engaged despite my sadness - each character coming through strongly with a clear voice. A part from one of Sue's chapters as an example;
The darkly obvious looms close by, encompassing everything. It is huge, your bereavement. It is consuming, protecting. Loss has cast you utterly into shadow. They all tiptoe around the tragedy. They tiptoe around you. After losing him, so violently and suddenly, your vagary, your absence, must be understandable. You are heart-broken. You are recovering. You are letting go.