The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen audiobook

The Center of the World

By Thomas Van Essen
Read by various narrators

Blackstone Publishing
9.88 Hours Unabridged
Format: Digital Download (In Stock)
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Alternating between nineteenth-centuryEngland and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painterJ. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story ofHenry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-endjob, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettlingpainting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever. This painting has such devastating eroticpower that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said tohave been destroyed—until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at hissummer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immensevalue, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by itsrevelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, andpossibility. Back in thenineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World,his greatest painting but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) hasever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whosepalatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meetElizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for hisHelen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by anunscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at anycost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly texturednovel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.

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Summary

Summary

Alternating between nineteenth-centuryEngland and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painterJ. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story ofHenry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-endjob, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettlingpainting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating eroticpower that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said tohave been destroyed—until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at hissummer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immensevalue, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by itsrevelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, andpossibility.

Back in thenineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World,his greatest painting but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) hasever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whosepalatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meetElizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for hisHelen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by anunscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at anycost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly texturednovel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“The main character in Van Essen’s ambitious debut novel is the lost titular painting by renowned British artist J. M. W. Turner. The big theme is among the biggest: the power of art.” Booklist
“With the painting’s journey, newcomer Van Essen demonstrates a flair for dialogue and an appreciation for how art moves the human heart.” Publishers Weekly
“A terrific debut novel about the mystical and erotic power of art…Van Essen writes gracefully and makes accessible the issue of art as transcendence.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Was J. M. W. Turner anything like Thomas Van Essen has presented him in this ambitious debut novel? After a few pages you will hardly care, as you will be gladly moving from the dinner table of Turner’s patron in early nineteenth century England, to the calculating art world of present-day New York City, to the rustic beauty of the Adirondacks and all its treasures, hidden and otherwise. In Thomas Van Essen’s characters and the impressive scope of this story we are given a strong case for the transformative nature of art, and how beauty can be a balm for the human soul.” Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever and The Walking People
“An utterly absorbing journey of the spell cast by a secret painting on those few who have seen it over 150 years.  Love and desire, treachery and mystery, great beauty and the loss of it, and finding love at last when you thought it was gone—all kept me up late reading this passionate novel of human fallibility and immortal art.” Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Thomas Van Essen

Author Bio: Thomas Van Essen

Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction
Runtime: 9.88
Audience: Adult
Language: English