The Artist Colony by Joanna FitzPatrick
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
She Writes Press
Paperback & eBook; 328 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paris, July, 1924…
Sarah, a young Modernist painter, receives a cable from California. Her estranged older sister, Ada Belle, has died under suspicious circumstances. When she arrives two weeks later at San Francisco’s Union Station, Sarah is confronted by a newspaper headline: “Inquest Verdict: Artist Commits Suicide.”
Sarah remembers the last haunting words Ada Belle said to her: “Ars longa, vita brevis: Art is long, life is short.” But Ada Belle’s work is selling, and her upcoming exhibition of portraitures would bring her even wider recognition. Why would she kill herself? Sarah’s quest to find the truth of what happened to Ada Belle leads her to join the bucolic artist colony to look for clues. As she delves into her sister’s underworld, tensions surface. The darker things get, the closer she comes to terrible danger. How far will a killer go before he kills again?
“. . . delivers an escape to gorgeous Carmel and an engaging mystery.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The Artist Colony is bold, creative, and unexpected – all the things nice ladies weren’t supposed to be in the 1920’s when they escaped to Carmel-By-The-Sea to make art without criticism. Joanna FitzPatrick, a descendant of one of those feisty female pioneers, has honored her family legacy and entertained her fans yet again with a fast-paced whodunnit that is equal parts loving tribute and killer thriller.” — Meredith May, author of The Honey Bus and Loving Edie
“The Artist Colony” is a sumptuous ride through the Carmel-by-the-Sea, circa 1920, as Sarah Cunningham, newly arrived from Paris, attempts to uncover the truth about her sister’s mysterious death. Atmospheric and delicious, FitzPatrick delivers a thrilling page-turner woven with artistic flourish. This exquisite novel does not disappoint! Highly recommended!” — Michelle Cox, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series
“It’s 1924 and a young woman journeys to Carmel, California, to learn more about her sister’s sudden death. She soon learns that the bohemian arts colony is anything but idyllic, as she’s confronted by flagrant racism and intimations of murder. Fitzpatrick has written a vivid historical novel with an absorbing mystery at the center of it, and I was riveted.” — Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen
“The dramatic landscapes of Carmel, beautifully depicted by FitzPatrick, are central to the plot, whose blow-by-blow story keeps us gripped to the final revelation of Ada’s murderer . . . a must-read novel for anyone who loves historical fiction, art, detective stories, and the West Coast.” — Maggie Humm, author of Talland House
“. . . readers who enjoy an exciting narrative with unexpected twists will find this a diverting and illuminating read.” — Historical Novels Review
Okay, first of all, I squealed at a very unlady-like pitch when I realized that the majority of this novel is set in Carmel, California. Carmel is one of my family’s favorite destinations, and I am well acquainted with it’s setting and history. (For someone who reads novels mostly set in England or Scotland, surely you can see why this set my little booknerd heart on fire.)
Also, can we just talk about the author’s headshot for one second? Don’t you desperately want to have coffee with her, after seeing that? I absolutely adore that picture.
Alright, let’s dig in to the novel! Sarah is pursing an art career in 1924 Paris, when she receives notice that her sister has passed away. More shocking, is when her death is ruled a suicide. Ada Belle was full of life and a force to be reckoned with; she had her entire life before her and embraced it whole-heartedly. The ruling doesn’t sit well with Sarah, and with a new cast of colorful characters, she begins to unravel the mystery, clue-by-clue.
Joanna FitzPatrick deftly pulls the reader into her story. She richly sets a scene, painting beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea with an artist’s eye for detail. The reader will learn of Carmel’s amazing (and not always awesome) history, and will feel as though they are fast friends with this little corner of California by the time the last page is turned. And the characters! I very much enjoyed Sarah, and especially enjoyed getting to know Ada Belle through Sarah’s eyes. I almost wish that we could have a prequel to The Artist Colony, just so I could spend a bit more time with Ada Belle. I felt that the supporting characters added some fun to the storyline as well, which is always a nice surprise. The story moved along quickly, without any lulls. And there were plenty of twists, turns and thrills to keep me reaching for those comfort cookies.
Bottom Line: One of my favorite books of 2021!
About the Author
Joanna FitzPatrick was born and raised in Hollywood. She started her writing habit by applying her orange fountain pen and a wild imagination to screenplays, which led her early on to produce the film White Lilacs and Pink Champagne. At Sarah Lawrence College, she wrote her MFA thesis Sha La La: Live for Today about her life as a rock ’n’ roll star’s wife. Her more recent work includes two novels, Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow. The Artist Colony is her third book. Presently, FitzPatrick divides her time between a mountaintop cottage in Northern California and a small hameau in Southern France where she begins all her book projects.
Blog Tour Schedule
Thursday, September 2
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Friday, September 3
Review at SJ Through the Looking Glass
Tuesday, September 7
Interview at Books & Benches
Wednesday, September 8
Review at Booking With Janelle
Saturday, September 11
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, September 13
Review at Jorie Loves A Story
Wednesday, September 15
Review at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 17
Review at Nat Reads
Monday, September 20
Feature at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 23
Review at Coffee and Ink
Enter to win a paperback copy of The Artist Colony by Joanna FitzPatrick! We have 2 copies up for grabs!
The giveaway is open to US addresses only and ends on September 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.