at home with a book

“Keeping the World Away” and a Corner Of The Artist’s Room in Paris.

Keeping the World Away – a book discovery.

Several years ago in one of the book shops in London, I came across a book of Margaret Forster “Keeping the World Away”. It was a fragment of the picture on the cover which draw my attention. A Corner Of The Artist’s Room in Paris by Gwen John made me open the book and eventually buy it. Before that I have never heard about the author or the title. I did not manage to take the book with me that time.  My book traveled with my friend around the world before I finally received it.  Just like a painting from the book. This week I finished the book and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I enjoyed it enormously and for sure will read it again.


A Corner of the Artist’s Room, Paris. Gwen John c.1907 – c.1909

A painting which changes lives.

 A beautifully written intriguing imaginative story of a small canvas that passes through the lives of six women over a period of 100 years. It starts wit Gwen John, a Welsh artist who lived and worked in Paris most of her life. Gwen painted the corner of the artistic studio for her lover Rodin who actually never saw the painting. Shortly after it was finished, Gwen gave it as a present to her friend Ursula who lost it on the train to London.  After that the painting travels through the lives of different women in Paris ,London, Cornwal,  a remote Scottish island, then goes back to London and ultimately to France. A small canvas touches the life of every single owner who have ever had it as her precious possession.  The painting influences then and changes them forever. It makes them all stronger, more independent and provokes thinking about the purpose of their existence.


The Convalescent. Gwen Joh 1923 – 1924

Home interiors which carry you over in time.

The author made an extensive research to bring the colorful and whirlwind life of the 19th and early 20th century back to us. I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere of the art world and well as detailed description of home interiors  which goes on thought the whole book and carry you over in time.  “Keeping the World Away” is definetly a wonderful addition to my list of books describing home.


 Flowers. Gwen John c.1910

A present which makes us appreciate life and art even more.

While it may seem a little melancholic to someone, I think of it as one of the best book gifts to women around me: my mom, sister and girlfriends because it encourages you appreciate life and art even more.

“It has a history. I don’t know what it is…, but something is there, more than the paint on the canvas. Don’t you think so? Don’t artists want to put more than the paint on the canvas?”

Margaret Forster
Keeping the World Away

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