Gus and her husband, Owen, have fled their urban lifestyle for the country. The quiet of the country is very conducive for their careers. Gus is an artist and Owen is a small-press author. The fact that they are leaving behind the city where Gus cheated on Owen is a hidden benefit. They have fought for their relationship and it has been on the mend ever since Gus's infidelity and the solitude of the country has strengthened their relationship. Until the day someone moves into the vacant house across the way. At first they welcome Allison into their quiet life. Her friendship is welcome and she is a bit of a kindred spirit having just left her teaching career to follow her passion as an artist. Then one day Allison's college-aged daughter appears on the scene and the dynamics shift. The young girl's hero-worship is detrimental to their fragile marriage, but how far is Gus willing to let it go to atone for her own mistakes?
In the book Life Drawing author Robin Black examines one couple's marriage and all of the cracks that can be found in their foundation. Gus and Owen have spent years tiptoeing around each other as they try to repair their relationship, they seem to have forgotten what it was like to relax around each other. It was as if Allison's appearance in the neighborhood and her friendship in their marriage gave them permission to relax and be "normal" again. I was surprised that it was Allison's daughter that causes the problem in their marriage, even though it seems so cliche, I was expecting it to be Allison. The book has a slow, meandering type of pace, lazy and relaxed like you would find in the country. But when things start happening the pace starts quickening and you feel like you are racing towards an explosive conclusion. The end was explosive. It was so unexpected to me the way it went down that it left me stunned and confused about what just happened. Just as Gus felt.
Bottom line - Life Drawing is a heart-achingly beautiful novel about love, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief. A novel that will spark some interesting conversations during your next book club.