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Seattle Times - Sunday, February 2, 2014
"In her absorbing second novel (“My Name Is Mary Sutter” came out in
2010), Oliveira boldly risks using these well-known historical
figures as characters in pursuit of artistic lives not at all
assured of fame or fortune. In smart and supple prose that eschews
melodrama and wears its research lightly, Oliveira shows a deep
understanding of art history and artistic process, and of Paris in
the 1870s... ...Oliveira’s lively work illuminates these ambitious
artists and rings true in the way that the best fiction can. She
captures the essence of working one’s art without promise of glory,
and reading her work is transporting."
Chicago Tribune - Jan 31, 2014
"Oliveira perfectly evokes the era's beauty and art in "I Always
Loved You", but don't be fooled by this somewhat generic title.
(You'll understand its meaning by book's end.) There's nothing bland
about the novel's painterly prose or storyline. The novelist's
illuminating portrayals of the inner lives of artists — Cassatt,
Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet — are beautifully
colored and as richly detailed as the paintings for which they are
Booklist – Starred Review – December 15, 2013
Oliveira follows her best-selling historical fiction debut, My Name
Is Mary Sutter (2010), with a novel based on the life of the
“formidable” American painter Mary Cassatt. Cassatt insists on
living in Paris among the impressionists, so her concerned parents
and loving sister join her there and are soon baffled by Cassatt’s
tempestuous interactions with her mercurial mentor, Edgar Degas. The
true nature of their relationship remains open to interpretation, an
opportunity Oliveira seizes with passionate and electrifying empathy
for both artists. As she vividly renders 1870s Paris and its gossipy
enclave of radical artists, including the painfully entangled Berthe
Morisot and Édouard Manet (who is suffering horribly from syphilis),
Oliveira contrasts irascible Degas and his freedom to go anywhere
his omnivorous eye leads him (even as his eyesight fails) and steely
Cassatt, who as a woman is forced to find inspiration in
domesticity, painting incisive portraits of mothers and children as
she forgoes marriage and motherhood. Emulating the powers of
observation and expression possessed by the artists she so vividly
and sensitively fictionalizes, Oliveira illuminates with piercing
insight the churning psyches of her living-on-the-edge characters.
This is a historically and aesthetically rich, complexly involving,
and forthrightly sorrowful novel of the perilous, exhilarating, and
world-changing lives of visionary artists breaking new ground and
each other’s hearts.
-- Donna Seaman