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The Art Student's War

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The Art Student's War is Brad Leithauser's finest novel to date, deeply moving in its portrayal of a young aspiring artist and her immigrant family during Detroit’s wartime heyday.

The year is 1943. Bianca Paradiso is a pretty and ambitious eighteen-year-old studying to be an artist while her bustling, thriving hometown turns from mass-producing automobiles to rolling out fighter planes and tanks. For Bianca, national and personal conflicts begin to merge when she is asked to draw portraits of the wounded young soldiers who are filling local hospitals. Suddenly she must confront lives maimed at their outset as well as her own romantic yearnings, and she must do so at a time when another war—a war within her own family—is erupting.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 02, 2009 – Leithauser's sixth novel is the story of Bea Paradiso, a character modeled after the author's late mother-in-law. Early in the story, Bea volunteers to draw portraits of wounded soldiers during World War II. Given the novel's title, one might expect this unique scenario to be the premise of the book, but the few pages devoted to Bea's sketches are overwhelmed by the melodrama that dominates the rest of the story. Much is made of the rivalry between Bea's mother and her aunt Grace, which culminates into a ridiculous argument over a bathing suit malfunction. Then, of course, there is Bea's romantic life; her affections are torn between the glamorous Ronny Olsen and the bookish Henry Vander Akker. However, Henry lures Bea into an empty house leading to a strange and muddied rape scene. Despite this mishap, when Henry is killed in battle, Bea remembers him as a martyr and playfully refers to him as her "virginity-stealer." The story then inexplicably skips several years into the future, where Bea is married to Grant, a lawyer who appears out of nowhere in the novel. The second half of the book is largely nostalgic toward the characters of Bea's past-a less-than-appealing undertaking, considering that the endeavors of the first half were abandoned so unceremoniously.
The Art Student's War
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Nov 03, 2009
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 512 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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