Life Drawing

An unusually accomplished second novel. Arnold is in complete control as she unfolds the story of Miranda Greer, aspiring artist, in an insightful and entertaining portrait of the artist as a young woman.

Miranda is a child caught in a colorful but tempestuous household of violent arguments and shattered dreams. With her pencil and sketchpad her only dependable allies, she will come of age against a broadly brushed canvas of vibrant emotions and conflict.

Written in lush, sensual prose, this multidimensional portrait is an illuminating look at the problems of a creative person in an uncaring society…at a young girl exploring love, breaking away from family, and choosing to follow the less traveled path – a classic theme rendered with an artist’s eye and a poet’s heart. 

 We leave Miranda when her decision to be an artist is firm and her vision of herself unclouded, finally realizing that she has the power to transform the stuff of the world and her own life into art

“In the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, a girl born to a failed script writer and a frustrated, would be singer, struggles to be an artist anyway… a generous portrait of an artist responding to the demands of vision in love and painting in a period when artists carried more paintings than investments in their portfolios. Filled with a provocative gallery of lustful patrons, contentious critics, Russian expatriates, and dour art instructors.”

—The New York Times  

“…many absorbing scenes and character portraits…an electrifying opening..frequently enlivened by acute turns of phrase bespeaking an artist’s eye….”

—Publishers Weekly

“LIFE DRAWING is like a fine painting that stirs a certain mood. Its words cast a poetic glow.”

—The Pittsburgh Press

“Filled with poetic, flowing language and beautiful allusions to art, Arnold’s novel should appeal to writers, artists, and generally to people interested in knowing more about children who grow up coping.”

—Grand Rapids Press

“Not since A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN has a writer enticed readers into a character so successfully…There is an emotional pitch that is maintained almost to the point of pain. There is an intellectual challenge that is equally painful.”

—The Jersey Journal

“Emily Arnold has delineated the vistas of a young artist’s life and fashioned an accomplished landscape.”

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Thoroughly absorbing, witty, humane…gives an unusual insight into the way it feels to take those tiny first steps and then the astonishing long ones toward genuine artistry.”

 —Rosellen Brown

“With the ease of a natural storyteller, Emily Arnold creates an elegantly drawn portrait of an eccentric, artistic family as she explores the limits of love and art and family ties in this accomplished and original novel.”

—Alice Hoffman

“Emily Arnold has the storyteller’s gift and the painter’s eye. Characters and scenes are brushed onto the page full of vibrancy and color and life.”

—Julia Markus