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The Last Nude

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“As erotic and powerful as the paintings that inspired it.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

Paris, 1927. In the heady years before the crash, financiers drape their mistresses in Chanel, while expatriates flock to the avant-garde bookshop Shakespeare and Company. One day in July, a young American named Rafaela Fano gets into the car of a coolly dazzling stranger, the Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka.
Struggling to halt a downward slide toward prostitution, Rafaela agrees to model for the artist, a dispossessed Saint Petersburg aristocrat with a murky past. The two become lovers, and Rafaela inspires Tamara's most iconic Jazz Age images, among them her most accomplished-and coveted-works of art. A season as the painter's muse teaches Rafaela some hard lessons: Tamara is a cocktail of raw hunger and glittering artifice. And all the while, their romantic idyll is threatened by history's darkening tide.

Inspired by real events in de Lempicka's history, The Last Nude is a tour de force of historical imagination. Ellis Avery gives the reader a tantalizing window into a lost Paris, an age already vanishing as the inexorable forces of history close in on two tangled lives. Spellbinding and provocative, this is a novel about genius and craft, love and desire, regret and, most of all, hope that can transcend time and circumstance.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 26, 2011 – In Avery’s second novel (after The Teahouse Fire), poor young Rafaela meets Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka in 1920s Paris. Rafaela is no stranger to the currency of sex (“I had traded sex for a train ticket, for an apartment, for a coat and hat and shoes, and most recently... for money”). Before meeting de Lempicka, however, Rafaela had never gone to bed because she wanted to, and the artist awakens the young woman’s desire. Centered around de Lempicka’s provocative nudes of Rafaela, the novel chronicles the shifting boundaries between artist and muse over the course of a heated affair. The relationship is tested when the prestigious Salon d’Automne jury accepts two of de Lempicka’s Rafaela paintings, The Dream and La Bella Rafaela. De Lempicka receives an offer for the latter work before the exhibit even opens, and Rafaela’s portrait becomes a sensation, leaving her uncertain of what to expect in the wake of success, especially from her lover. Though at times contrived, the strength of Avery’s novel lies in her depiction of a driven and accomplished artist and an impressionable waif who finds that her beauty no longer belongs to her.

Customer Reviews

The Last Nude

Interesting with the last part of the book looking back on a time not covered in the book.

Beautiful and Poetic

Filled with the characters populating the Left Bank of Paris during the 20s, like Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach. A wonderful exploration of art, love, and the legacies of regret.

The Last Nude
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Jan 05, 2012
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 352 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.

Customer Ratings

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