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Written by Goldie Goldbloom


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In 1903, the artist Gwendolen Mary John travels from London to France with her companion Dorelia. Surviving on their wits and Gwen’s raw talent, the young women walk from Calais to Paris. In the new century, the world is full of promise: it is time for Gwen to step out from the shadow of her overbearing brother Augustus and seek out the great painter and sculptor Auguste Rodin. It is time to be brave and visible, to love and be loved – and time perhaps to become a hero as the stain of anti-Semitism spreads across Europe.

'startling and beautiful; a powerful tribute to a great painter' Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife

'a ravishing achievement, a dazzling work of art in its own right’ Dominic Smith, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

'full of surprises, inspired sexual conjectures, moments of pathos and romance, illuminated by Goldbloom’s vivid imagination' Michael Holroyd, author of Augustus John: The New Biography

'Goldbloom’s is a work of imaginative intensity but it is spun from an armature of facts … Goldbloom’s re-creations of London and Paris at the turn of the century are as compelling as the louche sexuality of the narrative. The reader can smell the chill, sooty London air, be mesmerised by the shrill choruses of spring in the French countryside and smell the turpentine and wax in their threadbare, unheated Paris lodgings.' The Australian

'It is the story of all women who chose a life of freedom rather [than] one of servitude …' Herald Sun

'This novel brings its heroine, Paris and the whole era into sharp focus and vivid life.' Sydney Morning Herald

'... this bewitching novel of art, love and defiance excavates a forgotten female artist.' Readings

'Gwen is by turns tragic, comical, erotic, haunting and breathtakingly beautiful, charged with an undercurrent of melancholy yet tinged with hope.' Maureen Eppen


Aurealis Awards Best Fantasy Novel (Shortlisted 2018)
ALS Gold Medal (Longlisted 2018)
Most Underrated Book Award (Shortlisted 2018)

ISBN 9781925164251 (Paperback)
Formats B+ Format (208 x 140mm) (Paperback)
Categories Great Big Book Read Books
Award Winning
Book Club Reads
Mother's Day 2021
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2017
Pages 392
Rights World
  • Goldie web

    Goldie Goldbloom

    Goldie Goldbloom is the author of The Paperbark Shoe – winner of the AWP Novel Award and many other prizes, as well as a collection of short stories, You Lose These. Her work has been selected for the Best Australian Short Stories, and has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Narrative. Hunger Mountain awarded her their Nonfiction prize (2014). She teaches at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern University ever since being named as their Simon Blattner Fellow. She is the recipient of a NEA Fellowship, a Brown Foundation-Dora Maar House Fellowship, a Jerusalem Post Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Fellowship. She is a founding board member of Eshel, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ minorities and a mother of eight. Read more