Portraits of an Artist

A Novel of John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent was an enigmatic figure in his private life—he never married, but was intimate with many of the fin de siècle celebrities in Paris, London, Venice:  Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Edward Burne-Jones, Sarah Bernhardt. In 1882, Sargent was twenty-six and rising rapidly to fortune and fame, especially in Paris—but by the end of 1884, he had retreated from the City of Lights, disgraced and grieving, to make a new home in London. During these years, Sargent produced what are widely considered to be two of his very finest paintings, the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and Madame X, haunting portraits with dark psychological depths that engage and puzzle the viewer. Mary F. Burns’ second work of historical fiction—Portraits of an Artist—imaginatively portrays the motivations and passions that underlie Sargent’s creative force and brilliantly revealing art.

Click here to see the Sargent Book Trailer. Visit my blog  about John Singer Sargent  www.portraitsofanartist.blogspot.com.

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An Historical Mystery Series!

John Singer Sargent and his childhood friend Violet Paget (aka writer Vernon Lee)
become amateur sleuths, focusing their artistic and literary sensibilities to solve
various murders and crimes that fall in their way.

The first book, THE SPOILS OF AVALON, is a dual-time-period mystery that reaches
back to 1539 as Henry VIII is despoiling the Catholic monasteries —
and involves John and Violet in 1877 as they seek a murderer in the north of England.

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The second book, THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES, is set in Venice.
John and Violet are afloat in murder amidst secrets and long-held grudges
in an ancient palazzo on the Grand Canal.

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Ember Days

On the edge of the cultural earthquake that would be the 1960s, the people who live in the coastal village of Mendocino in 1959 can feel it coming.

Beats and jazz, poetry and art are spilling out of San Francisco onto the northern coasts of California. World War II is laid to rest, but people feel restless. When a village son, now a priest, comes back home to bury his mother, he finds his younger brother gone and a town full of secrets—some of them his own. Ember Days, named for the ancient marking of the change from one season to the next, reveals the heart’s deep longings and fears in the face of truth and change, life and death.

Visit the Ember Days Book Site for background, events and photos.

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Isaac and Ishmael

The first in a new trilogy, Novels of Genesis, Isaac and Ishmael follows the familiar story lines in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) but presents individual persons on a human scale in order to explore the thorny, complex and delicate relations between these brothers, who live in a place where time and eternity touch. A new God is coming into being here: Yahweh, the uncanny, irascible, mischievous, bargaining God who participates in the life of a new people and compels them to a new way of being human.

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J–The Woman Who Wrote the Bible

Like the women of the Red Tent, even the daughter of King David lived in a world ruled by men. But this woman was born to break the rules of both men and God in order to learn the art of writing, and with it, a power that could reveal the hidden truth, or slay a man with a single word. Secretly initiated into the magic of writing, Janaia finds she must master the sublime powers and visions that come with this “knowledge of good and evil,” a journey which reveals the secrets of life and death through heartbreak and sacrifice.
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In the Cage & At Chalk Farm

A Classic & A Sequel: A new series from Word by Word Press debuts with a classic Henry James short story “In the Cage” paired with a sequel, “At Chalk Farm.” The delightful, audacious and imaginative heroine of James’s story continues her journey as she moves beyond the telegraph cage at Cocker’s grocery establishment, and is on her way to becoming “the new woman” of the late 19th century—-defying social class, traditional gender roles, marriage conventions and economics in order to find out who she is and what she will become in the new order.
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Crapy Cornelia
& The Grace of Uncertainty

A Classic & A Sequel: The second in the series, the wonderful story Crapy Cornelia by Henry James shows his critical eye on the bustling, brash and blatantly modern City of New York in 1909, and in particular, Washington Square, which James had known intimately as a child, when it was a village of quiet families and good manners. The Grace of Uncertainty takes the same characters and opens up the veiled hints, the nuances, and the suppressed longings that hide behind the correct manners, the subdued gestures, and the occasional candid outbursts that James allowed his characters to display.

New Review For this book!

5.0 out of 5 stars A Henry James scholar beautifully creates a sequel to one of his stories August 14, 2019

In 1909, Henry James published his poignant story of three lonely people; a woman still young and in upper crust society and the other two a man and woman (above forty, which they consider old) clinging to it as best they can. He called it CRAPY CORNELIA, for the amount of crepe the poorer of the two women wears. He makes you want the characters to find a little contentment but leaves them all barely making do.

The author Mary F. Burns, herself a Henry James scholar and a gifted novelist, has decided to carry on with James’ story and has done so wonderfully in a tale called THE GRACE OF UNCERTAINTY. She writes in a style that is tinged by James himself, and yet is her own. The characters come to life just where he laid them off, with new scenes and line after line that makes you sigh with literary pleasure – “the eagerness of retrieving a sense of himself, of a being that he thought long deceased…” “her economically-imposed exile in Sussex.” But under Mary Burns’ skilled pen, we can believe the ghost of Henry James is in sitting in a chair near her desk as a collaborator. He would be a little amazed that if he had been unable or reluctant to bring his characters to fulfillment, his loving, gifted scholar has added to his story and let us know what happened to them.

FOR ALL HENRY JAMES FANS, OR THOSE WHO WANT TO GET TO KNOW HIM! by Stephanie Cowell, author of Marrying Mozart, Claude & Camille, The Players

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