Fame, fortune, and beautiful models - Howard Chandler Christy had them all.
Christy was the most famous American painter of the Jazz Age, a time when an elite brotherhood of New York artists dominated the publishing world. Christy had eclipsed all of them with his ''Christy Girl'', an idealized woman who redefined beauty, influenced fashion, and inspired generations of women.
The Magic of Youth is the first book in An Affair with Beauty - The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy, a biographical trilogy of the artist's epic life as told primarily through the eyes of his second wife, Nancy, a former Cosmopolitan model once considered to be one of the most beautiful women in America. As she reflects on her life, Nancy tells of first meeting Christy in 1912 and becoming his top model. She is captivated by his irresistible charm and the glamour of his enchanting world, but discovers that things are not always what they seem and even the great Christy has scandalous secrets.
©2016 James Philip Head (P)2016 James Philip Head
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The Magic of Youth: An Affair with Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy by James Philip Head was a difficult listen for me. The first hour provided over-the-top gushing compliments, flattery, and was more in line with the Yale vs. Duke basketball game from this year’s NCAA tournament. Twitter showed no one cares about the wealthy and privileged doing really well. With the basketball game, however, at least there was conflict., a winner and a loser. In the first part of this book, conflict was noticeably absent; it was a glorious homage to a painter and husband, with no flaws (until much later.)
The writing is beautiful, artistic, and lucid. But the author’s portrait is of a second model wife admiring her husband and thinking about the troubles of her neighbors from their Manhattan home overlooking New York’s Central Park, the story falls flat. The author works hard to separate what Nancy Palmer Christy said and what he imagined, but either way, conflict drives a story and I don’t think most readers would wait that long to get there.
While Howard Chandler Christy was a famous American painter, and the ”Christy Girl”, an icon, in 2016, I think this story falls short as a read for the general public. Eventually, the book gets to the inevitable issues, but a good editor should have recommended the author start in media res. The story is about a painter, so inevitably, using audio will be a challenge to begin with. I would have recommended the story be told backwards, from painting to painter, from brush to quill.
Still, there is a golden nostalgia to the book; sometimes the lexis seems erudite, sometimes sophomoric. But the author stays in form throughout the story, working to develop a picture of life we might ascribe to in fame and fortune. I look to The Great Gatsby as a way to take away everything from the protagonist while giving him everything. Unfortunately, this book gave everything too easily and waited too long to take it away. I know this compares a great fiction to a non-fiction, but I think it’s the organization of the book that keeps it out of the gallery.
A few might be interested in Howard Chandler Christy who are already fans, but I don’t think this base would expand much from this novel. If you like art, this book is a maybe listen, if you don’t, the book will confirm the stereotypes.
About the Narrator
Pamela Almand, the narrator, provides a warm reading, really saving the audiobook. Her pacing and speech provide a blanket to tuck each scene in. I would highly recommend her work with fellow narrator Scott Thomas in the novel In Movement There Is Peace: Stumbling 500 Miles Along the Way to the Spirit
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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No. I will listen to the next book in the trilogy however.
I could picture the light-filled studio and the events leading up to the artist's death drew me into that moment.
The female narrator has a wonderful voice well suited to this. She is able to convey emotion and different genders's voices successfully and without the overly dramatic reads many narrators give. I have not listened to any other audiobooks my this narrator but will do so.
I'm new into audiobooks but now I'm hooked and listen to everything!
It is right up there. It makes a true story with all the historical details very interesting and thrilling and you know the writer knows what he is talking about.
I have listened to a lot of her audiobooks but this is the first biography I have listened to. She brings the same energy and emotion to this book to make even a non-fiction book exciting and interesting. She gives a distinct voice to each person and makes you feel like you're right there with them all.
I didn't want it to end and I think it ended too abruptly without answering my questions but I'll certainly listen to the second one to find out the rest of the story.
best of the non-fiction books
She makes this come alive and keeps the story interesting even with the historical background details. This is not the usual dry biography and it is told with a storyteller's skill.
Gatsby of the Art World
It makes me want to know much more about this artist and why he wasn't famous. I would like to listen to the next book written by Head.
Yes, it is beautifully-written and the voice is perfect for the characters and story
When Nancy first came to the mansion on the hill and discovered it was Howard's home and she was already falling in love with him. I liked the character's voices and the descriptions of the amazing times they lived in and the famous friends they had.
This was an easy book to listen to and the reader had a smooth pleasant delivery that matched what I pictured perfectly and was never boring as in some biographies I have listened to.
Audible addict. Love picking up a new read.......review everything I've listened to on audible.
The first of a trilogy about the artist. I was reticent as I knew nothing about Christie. The presentation though is excellent and engaging, the reader having a truly beautiful voice, in keeping with the title.
Story matter is interesting,a biography as told from the perspective of Christies second wife and one of his models. Worth listening to, particularly if interested in art.
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