The Curiosities is a stunning fictional novel that includes many perspectives, and memorable characters you will cherish long after reading. Not only was I drawn into its beautiful cover, but its premise was unique too! One of our main characters, Nell Parker holds a PhD in Art History–after unsuccessful pregnancies and IVF treatments, she lands in an unexpected role in her life. Gloss is able to create an imitate story that explores grief, loss, and finding one’s purpose.
Title: The Curiosities
Author: Susan Gloss
Publisher: William Morrow
Edition: Paperback *A copy has been provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Rating: ★★★★ (approximately 4.1 stars)
What’s it about?
The follow-up to Susan Gloss’s successful debut, Vintage, is a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.
Note: It is not necessary to read Vintage first.
Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in Madison, WI. But her last pregnancy ended later in the second trimester, and rather than pausing to grieve, she pushes harder for testing and fertility treatments. Urging Nell to apply for jobs, Josh believes his wife needs something else to focus on other than a baby that may never be.
Finding a job turns out to be difficult for an art historian . . . until Nell sees the ad seeking a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony. The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion. The executor of Betsy’s estate simply hands Nell a set of house keys and wishes her luck, leaving her to manage the mansion and the eccentric personalities of the artists who live there on her own.
Soon one of the artists, a young metal sculptor named Odin, is keeping the other residents awake with his late-night welding projects. Nell is pretty sure that Annie, a dreadlocked granny known for her avant garde performance pieces, is dealing drugs out of the basement “studio.” Meanwhile Paige, an art student from the university, takes up residence in the third-floor turret, experimenting with new printing and design techniques, as well as leading a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night.
Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. And when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy—the creative, inspired world she’s created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.
- Relationships. This doesn’t only pertain to romantic ones. Gloss is able to weave a story filled with interesting characters, varying ages and personalities. I loved how close Nell became with the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony, which holds a artist-in-residency program.
- This is my first time reading one of Susan Gloss’s works, and let me tell you, I loved the numerous storylines. Besides Nell’s own loss of her pregnancies, there’s so much more behind the lives of the 3 artists (like one who sleeps with anyone, and one whose girlfriend died in a car accident, etc.)
- A whole lot of drama, and emotion! Once Nell lands in a job as an Art Director, she truly has no idea what she’s doing nor does she know the artists, who will be arriving at the Mansion. So, I loved the realistic portrayal of the book, and all the required Sunday dinners.
- Brave, tough, and inspirational characters. After an unfortunate night, the artists (coming from all different backgrounds) look to their past, and attempt to seek happiness in the present/future. My heroine, Nell Parker faces her circumstances head-on!
- Generally, time traveling (when novels include scenes from the past) can confuse a reader, and is sometimes unnecessary (if the same effect can be achieved through dialogue). However, Gloss does this wonderfully! So, plenty of time traveling (aka flashbacks), and slow-paced events.
- There’s even art pieces listed at the beginning of each chapter. If you’re into art, definitely try looking up some!
- While I loved all the character development, a bit more action wouldn’t hurt. Often, when one character is meeting another, the reader will already know about both, but will have to sit through their dialogue as one character develops a wrong impression of the other.
- Some events were predictable. But, I would still love to know more about their futures! (Gloss could create a short story?)
- A few of the descriptions were dragged on. As a reader, I often read fast-paced books, so I am very picky about writing that doesn’t hold significance to the central plot.
This book is recommended to art lovers, slow-paced readers, and those who love a wholesome, and heart-warming book. I absolutely loved the combination of characters, and the unique plot! All in all, it is a story of grief, loss, a sense of family, support, creativity, and hope.
Key: ★ = a full star (1), ☆ = half star (0.5)
Unique Plot: ★★★★☆
Emotional Response: ★★★★
Writing Style/Prose: ★★★★
Average: ★★★★ (approximately 4.1 stars)
About Susan Gloss
Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at GlossingOverIt.com, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.
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I’ve received 2 copies of the ARC, so I decided to give one away. I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I have!
The moment you’ve all been waiting for: click the link below, and enter.
Good luck, and may the odds be in your favor!
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