The Underpainter

by Jane Urquhart

McClelland & Stewart | August 21, 1998 | Trade Paperback

The Underpainter is rated 4 out of 5 by 6.
The Underpainter is a novel of interwoven lives in which the world of art collides with the realm of human emotion. It is the story of Austin Fraser, an American painter now in his later years, who is haunted by memories of those whose lives most deeply touched his own, including a young Canadian soldier and china painter and the beautiful model who becomes Austin’s mistress. Spanning decades, the setting moves from upstate New York to the northern shores of two Great Lakes; from France in World War One to New York City in the ’20s and ’30s. Brilliantly depicting landscape and the geography of the imagination, The Underpainter is Jane Urquhart’s most accomplished novel to date.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.33 × 5.38 × 0.69 in

Published: August 21, 1998

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771086547

ISBN - 13: 9780771086540

Found in: Literary

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just Not Enough 'The Underpainter' is eloquently written, and weaves both fiction and fact together. Using actual artists as minor characters develops the realism within the story. However, there were too many characters with interesting pasts- each seems to stand alone rather than truly interact with each other. This lack of interaction may have been intentional to promote Austin's distant personality, but it detracts from the continuity of the novel itself. There are moments of excellency in 'The Underpainter', yet not enough of them to make it a truly wonderful book.
Date published: 2000-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant The Underpainter is truly one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. A friend once told me that she loves Urquhart's writing but hates the characters but in this book the beauty of the characters lies in the writing. Reading this book is like reading a painting. With each chapter something new is reavealed, leading us closer to the final picture. It gives the reader the feeling of having participated in the creation of a work of art.
Date published: 2000-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely astounding an amazing novel. the narrator- Austin Fraser is cruel, vain, afraid, human. this novel depicts his story- the story of a man who was afraid of his own self. the story of the underpainter. the artist who flooded the underpaiting in his art with his own life, his melancholy, his passions, his all, then blurring it out. the plot takes erratic jumps all over a half century, yet most of the story takes place during the '20s and '30s. this book tells the story of Austin's life. it tells how many of the special, tender relationships in his life ended, either gradually, or abruptly. it tells of this man's struggles, his passions, his failures. it tells of how he ran away from happiness in the face of his own fear and vanity. the plot is filled to overflow with his life, and the lives of those who came to know him, those who's lives intertwined with his own, or not at all. those who's lives Austin kept carefully stored away in his photographic memory. all throughout the book he tells of how well he remembers it all, how picturesquely it is all stored in this now old man's mind, so well he could paint it. relationships spanned over decades, people whom he's pushed away, people who died far away, yet right before his eyes. ghosts of the past, his own and others'. this is the story of Austin Fraser.
Date published: 2000-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Real awakening The other day I finished the Underpainter by Jane Urquhart. I don't think I've read many other novels that have moved me so much as this one did. The main character, Austin, demonstrates how powerful emotion can be on an individual... by lacking to feel those emotions himself. I think anyone who reads this book will be able to make a connection between themselves and Austin's character, and will forever be moved by this novel. Jane Urquhart has once again demonstrated the power of the written word through her fictional, yet believable novel.
Date published: 2000-02-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Underpainter If you like fiction that is difficult to read and not very interesting, then this is the book for you. The story is not in chronological order so all the jumping around makes it confusing and also VERY repetitive. The word boring comes to mind more than once. I think that the only people to be impressed by this book are the people who gave it the award. It's seems the author wanted to write a prize winning book rather than something readable. I do not recommend this book.
Date published: 1999-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Underpainter This novel opens in the small northern community of Silver Islet. The year is 1937 and Austin Fraser, renowned New York artist, reflects on his life and success. He is bitter, lonely and isolated when we meet him. As the story of his life unfolds, we discover the series of events that has led Fraser to this point. Urquhart's sensitive depiction of landscape and character make for a thoroughly absorbing and touching novel. The book works on many levels - just like Fraser's paintings, there are many layers superimposed to make this a work of art. I can understand why it won the Governor General's Award. Highly recommended!
Date published: 1999-03-11

– More About This Product –

The Underpainter

The Underpainter

by Jane Urquhart

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.33 × 5.38 × 0.69 in

Published: August 21, 1998

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771086547

ISBN - 13: 9780771086540

Read from the Book

The woman is standing near the window in the downstairs front room of a log house on the north shore of Lake Superior. It is the winter of 1937. She is wearing a grey tweed skirt and a checked woollen bush jacket. Her dark-blonde hair is pulled back from her face and hangs in a thick braid almost to her waist. Despite the fact that she has kept her fires – both in the Quebec heater in this room and in the stove in the kitchen – burning all night, it is cold enough that she can see her breath. In her hand she holds an un - opened envelope with the words “Canadian National Tele gram” printed on it. Her head is bent and her shoulders are slightly stooped as she stares at this folded and glued piece of paper. To the left and to the right of the house in which she stands lies a series of similar homes built for the miners who arrived in this place in the 1860s. Since the penultimate closure of the silver mine in 1884, all but a few of these dwellings are abandoned in winter. In recent decades they have been used as summer residences only by certain adventurous families from the small twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William, which are situated sixteen miles to the west but cannot be seen from here because a limb of the huge, human-shaped peninsula of rock, known as The Sleeping Giant, hides them from view. This unconscious granite figure is famous. In the summer, tourists driving the gorgeous north shore of Lake Superior stop their cars and stare across Thunder Bay at his recli
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From the Publisher

The Underpainter is a novel of interwoven lives in which the world of art collides with the realm of human emotion. It is the story of Austin Fraser, an American painter now in his later years, who is haunted by memories of those whose lives most deeply touched his own, including a young Canadian soldier and china painter and the beautiful model who becomes Austin’s mistress. Spanning decades, the setting moves from upstate New York to the northern shores of two Great Lakes; from France in World War One to New York City in the ’20s and ’30s. Brilliantly depicting landscape and the geography of the imagination, The Underpainter is Jane Urquhart’s most accomplished novel to date.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jane Urquhart is the author of five internationally acclaimed novels: The Whirlpool, which received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France; Changing Heaven; Away, which won the Trillium Award and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, which won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and The Stone Carvers, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize and for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass, and three books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace, False Shuffles, and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan (I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan were published together in 2000 in a one-volume collector’s edition entitled Some Other Garden). Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, and has been named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. She was also the 2003 recipient of Alberta's Bob Edwards Award. Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings
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From Our Editors

A masterful literary novel from one of Canada's most accomplished authors, The Underpainter tells the intriguing story of an American painter and the lives that became inextricably linked to him and to his art. As he looks back on his life through a series of haunting new paintings, he realizes that each canvas reveals a new story. Spanning decades of human warmth and frailty, Jane Urquhart's Governor General's Award-winning novel takes readers from the northern shores of Lakes Superior and Ontario to France during the First World War and New York City during the '20s and '30s. Readers will be riveted right up until the end of The Underpainter's astoundingly-powerful climax.

Editorial Reviews

“Her language is pure, dazzling in its precision, like the etching of ice on glass.”–Globe and Mail“A painterly masterwork…poignant in each of its several landscapes and subtle in tracing the mingled nuances of love and pain.”–Kirkus Reviews“The detached eye of the narrator never falters, though passion hums beneath the surface like some vast primeval beast beneath the ice.” –The Independent (U.K.)“Writing with the eye of a painter, Urquhart transforms the energy of the world into enduring literature.”–Kitchener-Waterloo Record“Urquhart is one of Canada’s most accomplished and interesting writers.” –Edmonton Journal“Original and dazzling, radiant and quietly perceptive, Urquhart’s new novel delights the senses even as it astonishes the mind.…”–London Free Press“A lyrical novel with a deep, unsentimental connection to ordinary life…[Urquhart’s] language is vivid enough to take your breath away.” –Boston Globe“Urquhart explores the ability to love and the failure to love; the visual pictures and images of humanity beneath the surfaces on which art is created. The Underpainter is a savory read.” –Flare“Urquhart’s evocation of time and place shimmers with clarity.…” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)“Urquhart has written a novel whose narrative power matches her delicate artistry with words…lodges in the mind and heart forever.”–Montreal Gazette“Richly textured prose, and an intricate, many layered structure.”–Sunday Times (U.K.)“A rich, multifaceted story, skillfully told.” –Sa
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