“Painting The Light” by Sally Cabot Gunning – Book Review

Painting the Light is set on a sheep farm in Martha’s Vineyard in 1898.

Ida Russell is an artist who lives in Beacon Hill, Boston with her parents. Then her young life is beset by loss. First her father and two brothers are drowned – then her mother, overcome with grief kills herself by drowning as well.  Alone, Ida is living in the house where she was raised, distraught, grieving, lonely, and vulnerable.

When… along comes Ezra Pease. With charming promises of security and affection, he marries her and moves her to his sheep farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Once ensconced on the farm, Ida realizes too late Ezra’s true colors. He has used her money from the sale of her Boston house for his own nefarious schemes. Ostensibly he works with his partner Mose in the salvage business, but he has other cards up his sleeve. He is cold and condescending to Ida and she quickly learns that marriage does not preclude loneliness. She works the sheep farm arduously – she has no more time to paint.Then, Ezra too is drowned while sailing to Boston on business. This time, Ida feels little in the way of grief. She feels unencumbered without her surly husband.

Ezra’s partner’s brother is the executor of the estates of both men. His name is Henry and he helps Ida and befriends her. A carriage maker, he introduces her to riding a bicycle, an activity she loves for its sense of freedom.

Meanwhile, Ezra’s old aunt Ruth, the actual owner of the sheep farm, is very disdainful of Ida’s newest endeavors. She does not approve of Ida’s ‘carrying on’, of her association with Henry (a married man), and her scandalous bicycle riding.

“Another memory, not even that old, but already so frayed and brittle Ida had refused to pull it out too often in case it caused an irreparable tear.”

Ida learns of Ezra’s many secrets…

Secrets and lies.

Meanwhile, there is a new movement to secure women’s rights to vote! Ida is all in favor and champions the suffragette cause.

What a marvelous story! From the first pages I was immediately living the life of the protagonist, Ida Russell. I was sharing her losses, her anger, her frustrations, and her joys. I was transported to her world.

The back-breaking work of life on a sheep farm was skillfully rendered, and the animals added greatly to my own enjoyment of the novel. I also appreciated the friendships Ida made following Ezra’s demise.

This historical novel had many serious themes such as betrayal, duplicity, loneliness, and the history of women’s rights.

I will remember “Painting the Light” for a long, long, time. Highly recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from William Morrow via Edelweiss.

Publication date: June 1, 2021    Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780062916242       ASIN: ‎‎ B08H25G8CZ        368 pages

Sally Cabot Gunning lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom. A lifelong resident of New England, she is active in local historical organizations and creates tours that showcase the three-hundred-year history of her village. She is the author of three “Satucket novels” (The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke), as well as the historical novels Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard and Monticello.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Historical fiction, Women's fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “Painting The Light” by Sally Cabot Gunning – Book Review

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  5. Joanne says:

    Sounds good and what a gorgeous cover!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carla says:

    Interesting Historical Fiction story, sounds good. Glad you enjoyed it so much, Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: “Painting The Light” by Sally Cabot Gunning – Book Review @WmMorrowBooks #PaintingTheLight #BookReview #HistoricalFiction – Book Library

  8. Pingback: “Painting The Light” by Sally Cabot Gunning – Book Review @WmMorrowBooks #PaintingTheLight #BookReview #HistoricalFiction – Imobiliare 24

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