The Folio Prize
Augusta and Owen have taken the leap. Leaving the city and its troubling memories behind, they have moved to the country for a solitary life where they can devote their days to each other and their art, where Gus can paint and Owen can write.
But the facts of a past betrayal prove harder to escape than urban life. Ancient jealousies and resentments haunt their marriage and their rural paradise.
When Alison Hemmings moves into the empty house next door, Gus is drawn out of isolation, despite her own qualms and Owen's suspicions. As the new relationship deepens, the lives of the two households grow more and more tightly intertwined. It will take only one new arrival to intensify emotions to breaking point.
Fierce, honest and astonishingly gripping, Life Drawing by Robin Black is a novel as beautiful and unsparing as the human heart.
In the media
Suffused with remarkably sustained intensity . . . Full of insight into the fragility of marriage, this is a memorable read.
Atmosphere, in fiction as in life, counts for a great deal: the invisible but palpable quality of the air, the moods and emotions that circulate between people in currents. The ability not only to ascertain these things but to convey them to a reader is a particular gift, elusive to many writers of otherwise considerable descriptive powers. It is a gift richly bestowed on, and carefully deployed by, Robin Black, previously the author of an acclaimed short story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This. . . Black is a writer of great wisdom, and illuminates, without undue emphasis, the flickering complexity of individual histories . . . The atmosphere of their love, of this house, is one of the most powerful aspects of Black's unsettling and compelling novel . . . what Black - whose taut, elegant prose is both effective and affecting - conveys so well is that the farmhouse is far from unpeopled . . . Life Drawing is at once quiet and memorable. This makes it far from fashionable, and all the more to be applauded. Its author pursues real and vital questions. Astringent and wise, Black is not afraid to discomfit her readers. This novel, like life, is uneasy: what a relief.
Claire Messud Guardian
Life Drawing is the best thing I've read in ages. It's about a female artist who inadvertently sets a tragedy in motion. It has everything to do with female creativity, desire, the Möbius strip of art and life, occulted violence, literal and figurative ghosts - it's awesome.
Karen Russell Elle
Life Drawing is a riveting story about the corrosive effects of betrayal, and a beautifully written meditation on the delicate balance of intimacy and isolation within a long marriage.
Alice Sebold, author of THE LOVELY BONES