By all rights, the next post should be about Wuthering Heights. I have done a republication of it and I have done a cover for it. I’ve never read it.
I’m again doing one of my own. A Studio on Bleecker Street tells the story of Clara Bowman and Emily Connors. The latter was a character who befriended Elizabeth Geherty after both their families lost their money in late 1873. That was in Róisín Campbell. When I thought of something of a follow-up to that first novel, I hit upon Emily and a line in the book: “Emily Connor, whose family was in similarly desperate straits, had already decamped to Greenwich Village, moving in with an unmarried friend who had artistic aspirations.”
I built the new book around that friend, Clara Bowman. It begins well before the end of Róisín. Clara is a recently out society girl expecting to marry her best friend’s brother until the friend and the brother are killed in a train crash in Queens in May of 1872. Clara becomes an artist and paints portraits of Mary McNabb (Elizabeth’s sister) and both of Elizabeth Geherty’s parents.
The two plots intersect on the day after the final scene in Róisín, which Emily and Clara read about in the newspaper while finishing breakfast on a sidewalk outside in the Village.
“Do you remember me telling you I met her sister when I was in exile after we lost everything. Her family did, too, but Mary McNabb avoided that fate by marrying well. Or at least rich.”
“The Gehertys spoke of that. Why?” She looked up and put the pencil on the table.
Emily held the newspaper up to Clara, pointing to an article on the front page.
“The sister was Elizabeth. Read this.”
With this, I had my intersection, which provided a way to write follow-ups on some of the characters in Róisín for the balance of A Studio on Bleecker Street. After prior covers, when I was doing my revamp limited to paintings with an Open Access pedigree, there was one that was perhaps my favorite of all. Although it was painted sometime after the period of Studio, its era was vague enough for me to use it. So I did.
The idealized, impassive woman, shown as if she were a precious object, was a favorite turn-of-the-century subject and one particularly suited to Alexander’s temperament. Here, a young beauty is absorbed in nothing more consequential than pinning a bauble or blossom to the low neckline of her elegant evening gown. The skirt’s sinuous striped pattern, the curves at the knees and shoulders, and the contour of the upswept hair justify the description of Alexander as “the painter of the flowing line.” His dazzling brushwork is especially notable in the rendering of the rich fabrics and in the otherwise plain background.