Pub date: May 18, 2012
Rights: North America
The imagined life of one of Australia’s most intriguing artists.
“Melbourne in the mist. Tucked between substance and mirage, her city of shifting presences. There was surely nowhere else more alluringly ghostly. She seldom felt alone. Clarice and Melbourne were joined; the paintings of her city were love poems, a consummation.”
In 1914, Clarice Beckett sought the unusual, resisting social conventions by pursuing a career in painting, defying her family by yearning for a life of passion and sensuality. Her atmospheric, enigmatic landscapes garnered little approval from critics, who disparaged her style and subjects. Despite this censure, Clarice refused to compromise, unconventionally exploring her sexuality while relentlessly pursuing her talent. Unearthing the remarkable in the mundane, she transmuted simple cityscapes and seaside terrains into revelatory works of art.
This extraordinary story found its roots when Kristel Thornell first encountered the paintings of the now-famous Clarice Beckett at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The subtle power of Beckett’s landscapes prompted her to imagine Clarice’s inner life, shaping the artist’s history into a hauntingly erotic novel.
WINNER of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award, the Dobbie Literary Award, FAW Barbara Ramsden Award, and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist Award
“Night Street is a sensual novel with painterly undertones, smoky and lovely. The intermingling of a woman’s art and her charged secret lives forms a rapturous alchemy, electric and haunting.” — Mark Anthony Jarman, author of My White Planet
“In language subtle and fluid as brush strokes, Night Street insinuates past the surface and seeks, like painting, the place where landscape and character is indivisible. Based on the life of Australian artist Clarice Beckett, the writing is flecked with arresting insights, ridged with life’s exigencies. This is a touching, unusual, beautiful book.” — Beth Powning, author of The Sea Captain’s Wife
“In this original and sensual novel, Kristel Thornell immerses us in the painter’s experience and sees with her eyes. It’s uncanny! She seems to write in brush strokes.” — Joan Thomas, author of Curiosity