A surprising, rich and beautiful first novel about women's friendship for readers of Paula McLain and Elena Ferrante, by a bestselling non-fiction author who has brilliantly turned her hand to fiction.
In Sofie & Cecilia, beloved non-fiction author and journalist Katherine Ashenburg draws upon her formidable skill and maturity as a writer to craft an extraordinary and splendid debut novel. This is the story of a lifelong female friendship, set in the fascinating art world of Sweden between 1900 and 1940, just as modern art and the beginnings of the Scandinavian mid-century modern design movement were inspiring a creative revolution across northern Europe. Loosely based on the lives of celebrated artists Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn ("Nils Olsson" and "Lars Vogt" in the novel), Ashenburg transports us behind both the public and domestic scenes--and canvasses--of these larger-than-life men to reveal the lesser-known but equally astounding and rich stories of the women who married them: restlessly creative artist-in-her-own-right Sofie Olsson, and fiercely private and intelligent curator Cecilia Vogt.
Here is a gorgeous gem of a book: surprising, unique, layered with insight into the nuances of female friendship as it stretches, changes, and deepens in unexpected ways over a lifetime. Woven effortlessly through this tapestry, like a beautiful motif, is absorbing detail about Scandinavian painting, design, and textile work; European history and sexual politics; the country life, city salons, vibrant art, and folklore of Sweden; and the secrets and challenges of bright, talented women juggling marriage, career, individual aspirations, and family life inside an artist's household in the early twentieth century.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Equal parts sad, sweet, and pragmatic, Toronto journalist Katherine Ashenburg's debut novel portrays the complexities of female friendship at the dawn of the 20th century. Painter Sofie Olsson, whose creativity takes on a sleepless, almost manic quality, is a sharp contrast to curator Cecilia Vogt, who’s as fiercely protective of her private life as she is of the art she’s entrusted with. Set against the birth of both Scandinavian modernism and feminist ideals, this novel—which tracks the lifelong evolution of its heroines’ relationship—feels vital and contemporary in its exploration of marriage and gender politics.