I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads and Viking as an advanced reader copy.
I didn’t quite know what to think going in to reading this book, but I ended up liking it more than I expected to. I Always Loved You is an incredible look into the world of French art during the height of artists like Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Monet, Manet, and Renoir. It paints a beautiful, if not confusing picture of the world of the Salon and exhibitions of artists who separated themselves from the norm. Their refusal to conform with the Salon led to them being shunned, sometimes laughed at but also revered in equal turns. This is the story of Mary Cassatt, an American painter in France and a woman who does not fully believe in herself. She is a character which I think many of us can relate to, artists or not. Her trials within the Salon and without it, her highs and lows are something remarkable and entirely palpable even now so many years later. She revers Edgar Degas, who eventually becomes her friend and perhaps something more, though he is a self-centered, unmanageable man. This is a tale of convoluted relationships, difficult personalities and a world in which not everyone and everything is accepted. Through it all Oliveira manages to give us a clear view of the world and the artists that live in it, and really it is an interesting read. Perhaps not for everyone, but lovers of art will definitely enjoy this new look into the lives of these fantastic artists!
I can’t say that this was my favorite book, and at times there were parts that lagged or seemed to almost repeat themselves, however it was still a good read. I would recommend it to people who are fans of art definitely, but also those who love a good story about a complicated relationship.