Narrator: Pamela Almand
Series: An Affair With Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy #1
on 11 August 2016
Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
Genres: History, Non-Fiction
Source: Narrator, Submitted
Fame, fortune, and beautiful models - Howard Chandler Christy had them all.
Christy was the most famous American painter of the Jazz Age, a time when an elite brotherhood of New York artists dominated the publishing world. Christy had eclipsed all of them with his ''Christy Girl'', an idealized woman who redefined beauty, influenced fashion, and inspired generations of women.
The Magic of Youth is the first book in An Affair with Beauty - The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy, a biographical trilogy of the artist's epic life as told primarily through the eyes of his second wife, Nancy, a former Cosmopolitan model once considered to be one of the most beautiful women in America. As she reflects on her life, Nancy tells of first meeting Christy in 1912 and becoming his top model. She is captivated by his irresistible charm and the glamour of his enchanting world, but discovers that things are not always what they seem and even the great Christy has scandalous secrets.
©2016 James Philip Head (P)2016 James Philip Head
ABR received this audiobook for free from the Narrator, Submitted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the audiobook or the content of our review.Buy from Audible Buy from Amazon.comAdd to Goodreads
The Magic of Youth: An Affair with Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy by James Philip Head was a difficult listen for me. The first hour provided over-the-top gushing compliments, flattery, and was more in line with the Yale vs. Duke basketball game from this year’s NCAA tournament. Twitter showed no one cares about the wealthy and privileged doing really well. With the basketball game, however, at least there was conflict., a winner and a loser. In the first part of this book, conflict was noticeably absent; it was a glorious homage to a painter and husband, with no flaws (until much later.)
The writing is beautiful, artistic, and lucid. But the author’s portrait is of a second model wife admiring her husband and thinking about the troubles of her neighbors from their Manhattan home overlooking New York’s Central Park, the story falls flat. The author works hard to separate what Nancy Palmer Christy said and what he imagined, but either way, conflict drives a story and I don’t think most readers would wait that long to get there.
While Howard Chandler Christy was a famous American painter, and the ”Christy Girl”, an icon, in 2016, I think this story falls short as a read for the general public. Eventually, the book gets to the inevitable issues, but a good editor should have recommended the author start in media res. The story is about a painter, so inevitably, using audio will be a challenge to begin with. I would have recommended the story be told backwards, from painting to painter, from brush to quill.
Still, there is a golden nostalgia to the book; sometimes the lexis seems erudite, sometimes sophomoric. But the author stays in form throughout the story, working to develop a picture of life we might ascribe to in fame and fortune. I look to The Great Gatsby as a way to take away everything from the protagonist while giving him everything. Unfortunately, this book gave everything too easily and waited too long to take it away. I know this compares a great fiction to a non-fiction, but I think it’s the organization of the book that keeps it out of the gallery.
A few might be interested in Howard Chandler Christy who are already fans, but I don’t think this base would expand much from this novel. If you like art, this book is a maybe listen, if you don’t, the book will confirm the stereotypes.
About the Narrator
Pamela Almand, the narrator, provides a warm reading, really saving the audiobook. Her pacing and speech provide a blanket to tuck each scene in. I would highly recommend her work with fellow narrator Scott Thomas in the novel In Movement There Is Peace: Stumbling 500 Miles Along the Way to the Spirit