Sofie & Cecilia by Katherine Ashenburg

Sofie & Cecilia

byKatherine Ashenburg

Kobo ebook | March 27, 2018

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A surprising, rich and beautiful first novel about women's friendship for readers of Paula McLain and Elena Ferrante, by a bestselling non-fiction author who has brilliantly turned her hand to fiction.

In Sofie & Cecilia, beloved non-fiction author and journalist Katherine Ashenburg draws upon her formidable skill and maturity as a writer to craft an extraordinary and splendid debut novel. This is the story of a lifelong female friendship, set in the fascinating art world of Sweden between 1900 and 1940, just as modern art and the beginnings of the Scandinavian mid-century modern design movement were inspiring a creative revolution across northern Europe. Loosely based on the lives of celebrated artists Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn ("Nils Olsson" and "Lars Vogt" in the novel), Ashenburg transports us behind both the public and domestic scenes--and canvasses--of these larger-than-life men to reveal the lesser-known but equally astounding and rich stories of the women who married them: restlessly creative artist-in-her-own-right Sofie Olsson, and fiercely private and intelligent curator Cecilia Vogt.
     Here is a gorgeous gem of a book: surprising, unique, layered with insight into the nuances of female friendship as it stretches, changes, and deepens in unexpected ways over a lifetime. Woven effortlessly through this tapestry, like a beautiful motif, is absorbing detail about Scandinavian painting, design, and textile work; European history and sexual politics; the country life, city salons, vibrant art, and folklore of Sweden; and the secrets and challenges of bright, talented women juggling marriage, career, individual aspirations, and family life inside an artist's household in the early twentieth century.

Title:Sofie & CeciliaFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 27, 2018Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735272697

ISBN - 13:9780735272699

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Artfully Literary This is a literary, fictionalized biographical story. As such it does not have a climax. It is even and true to life throughout. This makes it possibly boring for many people. However, if you understand that the author, Katherine Ashenburg, normally writes non-fiction then you can perhaps come around to the genius of this story. The Story As opposed to plot this is more of a character study. Ashenburg bases her main two women (and their husbands) on two women who actually existed. While the names, some of the details and events are fictionalized; the core storyline is based on actual events and people. The story is split into two perspectives Sofie first, and then Cecilia. It's a little tedious at times to experience the same event from both sides; but Ashenburg limits the number of times that happens. Artistry This is not a fast-paced story. Instead it's very lyrical and literary. The way the art is described, the people, the situations and the thoughts of our characters are all done with a gorgeous literary style that I admire. Ashenburg did not lightly write this story and while the pacing is a bit slow; the overall artistry of the story matches up well with the main topic of Swedish art. WWII This is an odd book that overlaps part of it's timeline with World War II. Odd in that the war is a relatively small factor. Our main characters mostly live in Sweden which is a neutral, unengaged country. It was interesting to me to feel what many in the neutral countries might have felt while the whole world was at war. This was a very different way to see the war for me and I, while it's a small part of the overall story, it made a large impact on me. Overall If you are interested in Swedish culture or Swedish art then you are likely to enjoy this book. If you don't mind a character study as opposed to exciting events this this is for you. Sofie & Cecilia is a different type of book but that doesn't make it a poor read. I found it to be an interesting read and would merely want others to be aware of what they are getting into at the forefront. Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Date published: 2018-09-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Tale of Two Lives I feel as if this book is either going to be a hit or miss for readers. If you are a fan of literary fiction, this may be the read for you; however, for those that enjoy more of a contemporary or modern style of writing, this may be a boring read. As much as I can appreciate literary fiction, it's not my favourite genre so sometimes I can struggle when reading these style of novels. For the first half of the novel, I have to say the story was fairly slow-paced. I could extend that pacing to the length of the novel but I noticed once I was halfway through, I became more interested in the story and it was less of a task to finish reading. In all honesty, it's not an exciting novel. It's a novelization on the lives of two women throughout their lifespan (excluding childhood) and how their lives are separate, different, and also how they intersect. It does have important feministic components involving women having a career/passion, motherhood, and relationships. It shows the obvious difference between men and women in that time in history, allowing the reader to compare and contrast similarities and differences to this current age. Even if I was not a huge fan of the novel as a whole, I did find the characters of both Sofie and Cecilia very interesting. They were both full of depth, strength, and a kind of resilience in the decisions they made regarding their lives. Overall, if you are a fan of literary fiction that has a slower pace but is more realistic to everyday life, this one may be for you. If you are looking for something with a quicker pace that entertains, I would suggest to pick up a different novel. ***Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for sending me an advanced reader's copy from a giveaway***
Date published: 2018-03-10