Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.
Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)
Drawing Lessons is a fantastic portrait of a woman in her sixties, who suddenly must face suffering and loss, and fight again for her dreams. Patricia Sands has wonderfully presented all her characters. She has drawn them, like in a painting. While I was reading, I could actually see them, and all her descriptions have such strength and delicacy.
Years before Arianna Papadopoulos Miller have abandoned all her artistic dreams when she and her husband Ben decided to manage the family restaurant which represented all the hopes of her father, Nikos and the anchor to their Greek origins. Now with Ben’s illness, everything is going to change, and after about two years in dealing with this situation, her family encouraged her to take part in an artists’ workshop in Arles, France, to finally rediscover her dreams and herself.
This challenge could be a new beginning for Arianna, a deserved second chance to observe in a new perspective all the events which have colored her life, both joyful and painful. In Arles, Arianna will learn to share her story and emotions with new courage, thanks to a wonderful group of artists that will live side by side in the amazing atmosphere of the Mas des Artistes. Juliette, Bertie, Barbara, Joan, Lisa … you will like every individual of this colorful group. In fact, each one with different and sometimes painful experiences will receive and give support to the others, not only in the artistic field.
Gratitude was the strongest emotion that filled her right now. She could never have imagined sharing her personal life so completely with relative strangers. But Juliette had reached in and opened a small corner of the compartment where she had locked her feelings about her life. About the “now”.
I really enjoyed reading about Arianna and her family and all the love and enthusiasm which made the Papadopoulos Miller family bond so special. Patricia Sands is really an acute and emotional observer. I appreciate her talent in describing with so many details not only her characters’ personalities but also the beautiful panorama, that give you a perfect glimpse of Arles and surroundings. While reading, I can feel all her enthusiasm and love for the places and the situations she has described, and that made me smile so many times.
Drawing Lessons is a very heartwarming and touching novel about love, dreams, being faithful to open our heart and soul to new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to rediscover all the colors’ beauty and their numerous nuances.
I absolutely give this book five out of five stars.
I’ve received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Publication date: October 1, 2017
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing