It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Flames by Sophie Haydock. The Flames: This is the story of four muses. Let them speak…
About the Author
Sophie Haydock is an award-winning author living in east London. The Flames, is her debut novel. She is the winner of the Impress Prize for New Writers. Sophie trained as a journalist at City University, London, and has worked at the Sunday Times Magazine, Tatler and BBC Three, as well as freelancing for publications including the Financial Times, Guardian Weekend magazine, and organisations such as the Arts Council, Royal Academy and Sotheby’s.
Passionate about short stories, Sophie also works for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award and is associate director of the Word Factory literary organisation.
Her Instagram account @egonschieleswomen – is dedicated to the women who posed for Egon Schiele – has a community of over 110,000 followers, and continues to grow. For more information, visit: sophie-haydock.com. Follow @Words_by_Sophie on Twitter
About the book
Every Painting tells a story, but what if the women on the canvas could talk…
Vienna, at the beginning of the 20th century, is an exhilarating social whirl, a city of ideas, of music, of ground-breaking art, led by Gustav Klimt until the arrival of his scandalous protegee, Egon Schiele. Into this world come four women, each with their own story to tell:
Adele: passionate, fierce, obstinate. The daughter of a bourgeois family, she rails against the strictures of her class and harbours her own wild fantasies.
Gertrude: spirited, single-minded, possessive. The sister to budding artist Egon Schiele, she longs for an exciting life away from their tempestuous family home.
Vally: determined, independent, proud. A model for celebrated artist Gustav Klimt, she has carved her way out of poverty and is now forging a brave new path for herself.
Edith: quiet, conventional, loyal. Or is she? Younger sister to Adele, Edith is overlooked and wonders if there is another version of the woman she might become.
Four flames, four wild, blazing hearts, longing to be known. In an elegant bohemian city like Vienna, everything seems possible – until an act of betrayal changes everything. For just as a flame has the power to mesmerize, it can also destroy everything in its path.
The story of the women, the muses of Egan Schiele. Set in dual timelines, we meet one of the women as an older woman, desperate to find peace and forgiveness. In moments of confusion it’s hard to detect the truth and clarity of the life she has led and the role she played in the world of art.
In the past the reader is introduced to the artist, who in the 21st century would have been embraced for his vision, but in the early 20th century was a scandal unto himself. Egon Schiele, a protegee of Klimt, has no concern for those around him. He wants to paint what inspires him, even if it is considered scandalous in the eyes of society.
In pre-war and subsequently the duration of the Great War his relationships with the women who inspired such imagery unfold before us, and perhaps give an insight into his process, passion and psyche in a way that helps others to understand the font of creative source.
There is a fine line between genius and insanity, passion and borderline abusive behaviour, between obsession and the embers of mutual attraction. The author captures this untamable wildness of creative passion, and the victims who are left trailing behind in the wake of creation. Although I am certain the majority wouldn’t see themselves as such, but rather as the chosen who have been deemed worthy enough to be the source of said creativity.
Haydock draws readers into her fictional narrative and interpretation, which is supported by historical facts and nuances. The result is a riveting, powerful, passionate and visceral read. It’s an excellent story I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and gift this book.