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The Flames by Sophie Haydock


The Flames by Sophie Haydock
UK Publication: March 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Which flame will burn brightest…

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Every painting tells a story, but what if the women on the canvas could talk…

Vienna, at the beginning of the 20th century, is an exhilarating social whirl, a city of ideas, of music, of groundbreaking art, lead by Gustav Klimt until the arrival of his scandalous protegee, Egon Schiele. Into this world come four women, each with their own story to tell:

ADELE: passionate, fierce, obstinate. The daughter of a bourgeois family, she rails against the strictures of her class and harbours her own wild fantasies.

GERTRUDE: spirited, single-minded, possessive. The sister to budding artist Egon Schiele, she longs for an exciting life away from their tempestuous family home.

VALLY: determined, independent, proud. A model for celebrated artist Gustav Klimt, she has carved her way out of poverty and is now forging a brave new path for herself.

EDITH: quiet, conventional, loyal. Or is she? Younger sister to Adele, Edith is overlooked and wonders if there is another version of the woman she might become.

Four flames, four wild, blazing hearts, longing to be known. In an elegant bohemian city like Vienna, everything seems possible – until an act of betrayal changes everything. For just as a flame has the power to mesmerize, it can also destroy everything in its path . . .

My Thoughts: I loved this fictional look at the 4 women who inspired artist Egon Schiele. The author admits there is not much information to be found about each woman but that doesn’t stop her from writing 4 totally compelling characters (5 if you count Egon but he is a man and the artist who had all the attention in life so who cares LOL) I liked the images of each woman included at the start of her narrative but I have to confess the art work is not for me.

Haydock does a brilliant job of describing the works of art and how the women are posed, how this posing is not an easy thing and how society at the time would have frowned on the women for this behaviour.

Each character tells her own story from her own perspective and it is only when the stories start overlapping that we realise the women themselves may not be the best narrators of events outside of themselves.

I loved each character in her own right but it was poor troubled Adele who really stole the story. Have the hankies ready for the ending and if you can go in blind so you have no spoilers.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to historical fiction fans and to those who enjoy stories about strong independent women.

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