PAX

Two artists, separated by centuries, search for peace…

When artist Stephen Bloodsmith creates a series of images inspired by Rubens' trip to London in 1629, he enters a historical world of suspicion and intrigue. But will the manipulations he portrays in art spill over into the real world? When he practises deception inside his own marriage, falling in love with his model even as the romance of his wife Robyn unravels, the corrosive parallels between Bloodsmith's and Rubens' lives – the discovery of intimate secrets, the pain caused by desire and jealousy, the consequences of power and conflict – become hard to live with and impossible to ignore.

Rubens believed he could make peace between the warring powers of Europe. To succeed he must win over Charles I of England, while in Paris 'the Cardinal' is working to frustrate him. Will nation cheat nation as people deceive one another in their personal lives?

At once an intimate portrait of sexual pain in two centuries, and a gripping depiction of international 'deal-making', Pax is a rich, compelling study of desire, power, art – and the necessity of finding peace.

 

Reading a draft of Pax, still in work, the novelist CELIA DALE commented:

'I'm rather bowled over by this (I think) brilliant novel in which the extramarital affair between a black model, Mae, and a married painter, Stephen, runs parallel with Rubens's journey to the court of Charles the First as an emissary of the Spanish court, during which he paints his huge allegorical painting Peace and War. I don't think I've read so vivid a description of painting, the painter's eye, technique, concentration -- both from Stephen, with his stark modern style (and fascinating etching courses at the art school where he teaches) and Rubens, with his lush visions and techniques amid the homely London family with whom he lodges. His models are blonde, white, overflowing: Stephen's is the lean, angular black Mae, married to an Englishman we never meet… The mutual guilts, regrets, love are beautifully dissected, slowly, painfully: while Rubens too yearns and worries: both of them always paint. It is extraordinarily perceptive, humanly and artistically, and beautifully judged, the light against the dark, the lush against the spare, the techniques against the instinctive reflexes. I would like to know how this tremendous novel fares.'

Two artists, separated by centuries, search for peace…

When artist Stephen Bloodsmith creates a series of images inspired by Rubens' trip to London in 1629, he enters a historical world of suspicion and intrigue. But will the manipulations he portrays in art spill over into the real world? When he practises deception inside his own marriage, falling in love with his model even as the romance of his wife Robyn unravels, the corrosive parallels between Bloodsmith's and Rubens' lives – the discovery of intimate secrets, the pain caused by desire and jealousy, the consequences of power and conflict – become hard to live with and impossible to ignore.

Rubens believed he could make peace between the warring powers of Europe. To succeed he must win over Charles I of England, while in Paris 'the Cardinal' is working to frustrate him. Will nation cheat nation as people deceive one another in their personal lives?

At once an intimate portrait of sexual pain in two centuries, and a gripping depiction of international 'deal-making', Pax is a rich, compelling study of desire, power, art – and the necessity of finding peace.

 

Reading a draft of Pax, still in work, the novelist CELIA DALE commented:

'I'm rather bowled over by this (I think) brilliant novel in which the extramarital affair between a black model, Mae, and a married painter, Stephen, runs parallel with Rubens's journey to the court of Charles the First as an emissary of the Spanish court, during which he paints his huge allegorical painting Peace and War. I don't think I've read so vivid a description of painting, the painter's eye, technique, concentration -- both from Stephen, with his stark modern style (and fascinating etching courses at the art school where he teaches) and Rubens, with his lush visions and techniques amid the homely London family with whom he lodges. His models are blonde, white, overflowing: Stephen's is the lean, angular black Mae, married to an Englishman we never meet… The mutual guilts, regrets, love are beautifully dissected, slowly, painfully: while Rubens too yearns and worries: both of them always paint. It is extraordinarily perceptive, humanly and artistically, and beautifully judged, the light against the dark, the lush against the spare, the techniques against the instinctive reflexes. I would like to know how this tremendous novel fares.'

 

‘Harvey, who is fascinated by the creative process involved in the making of art, finds the perfect subject in Rubens' painting 'Peace and War' and its themes that intrigue and inspire a contemporary artist. The result is a many-layered novel, impressively skilful and deeply absorbing.’ ANITA DESAI

‘At one level, a gripping wartime/espionage thriller… Harvey’s sensually pungent, multiple-strand narrative shows how Stephen Bloodsmith’s imaginative immersion in the historical Caroline London transforms his Twenty-First Century lived experience.’  SIMON LAVERY, Tredynas Days

‘Did Van Dyck have affair with much younger wife of Rubens?’, The Daily Telegraph, 28 October 2019.

‘Smile that suggests an Old Masters love triangle’, The Times, 28 October 2019.

ISBN: 978-1-910688-87-8
Format: Hardback
Price: 16.99
Category: Fiction-Literary/Historical, pp: 368

For all inquiries contact Robert Peett: contact@hhousebooks.com, 01635 36527

Publication date: 31st October 2019

© 2019 by John Harvey, jrh49@cam.ac.uk 

Novelist, art critic, literary critic and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

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