Cut Out

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

1
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 12 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 18 Aug 2021

Talking about this book? Use #CutOut #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

A lyrical tale of family secrets and self-discovery.
Denis knows his mother kept things from him.
His godmother, Clemence, knows the truth.
In rich, sensuous prose, Roberts interweaves Denis's search for answers with Clemence's memories of the time she spent working for Matisse.

A lyrical tale of family secrets and self-discovery.
Denis knows his mother kept things from him.
His godmother, Clemence, knows the truth.
In rich, sensuous prose, Roberts interweaves Denis's...

Advance Praise

'Lyrical, atmospheric, wonderful.' -Viv Groskop

'A novel of deep pleasures.' -Susie Boyt

'Lyrical, atmospheric, wonderful.' -Viv Groskop

'A novel of deep pleasures.' -Susie Boyt


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781913207472
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 6 members


Featured Reviews

This is a novel of deep pleasures and I devoured this in one sitting. A lyrical tale of family secrets and self-discovery.
Denis knows his mother kept things from him.
His godmother, Clemence, knows the truth.
In rich, sensuous prose, Roberts interweaves Denis's search for answers with Clemence's memories of the time she spent working for Matisse. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Was this review helpful?

This novel alternates between present day Denis, travelling from London to visit his godmother Clem in France, and her youth many decades previously, working in close proximity to Henri Matisse. I felt the twist coming, the big reveal between Clem and Denis, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying. I’ve only read a few of Roberts’ books but I love her writing, her poetic and beautiful prose, and I’ll definitely be back for more of her backlist soon.

Was this review helpful?

This is an interesting book, focused on the later years of Henri Matisse and those who cared for him. This was the period where Matisse was creating his famous ‘cut out’ works and these art works are linked inextricably to the body that’s failing the artist and the structure of the novel. I visited Tate Modern for the Matisse exhibition a few years ago, and because I’ve studied disability theory and life writing I could see that these cut out pieces were a metaphor for a body that was failing, piece by piece. By taking a whole piece of paper, cutting out these shapes, then rearranging them to make a piece of art, I felt that sense of having all the pieces, but no longer in the order that makes up a whole. When we become sick or disabled our body doesn’t work as a cohesive whole any more. The pieces are different, rearranged and not necessarily working together harmoniously anymore. In my writing therapy groups, often for people with disabilities, I encouraged journal work that experimented with structure. I wanted to encourage writing that was the embodiment of their illness or disability. The writing produced is often fragmentary, moving between long lyrical sentences and short, snappy statements. In my own work there are gaps where I don’t have the language to express how my multiple sclerosis feels or how my emotions process the change from day to day. Often fragmentary paragraphs don’t seem related at all - representing the nerve damage that occurs in this disease, preventing the signals that keep a body coherent and working in harmony with itself, As a group we talk to our illness, we give it a name and a body of its own, then chat to it and record what comes back. I believe all of this is what Matisse was representing with a cut out piece and I’m sure that Michele Roberts is doing something equally clever in the structure of this novel, that can seem a bit bewildering at first. Sentences are very free form, there are fragments from different unnamed characters, there is speech without punctuation and time differences that are not obvious straight away. Might this lack of structure alienate some readers? Quite possibly, but I don’t think Roberts is thinking about clarity, she’s making a work of art. The best thing to do is just go with it and let the writing flow over you, until the meaning becomes clearer, Sometimes, when we visit a gallery, we need time to engage with some pieces. We simply have to stop and look for a while with no expectations I did find myself having to go back and reread sections, so it isn’t a quick read, and it won’t be for everyone.

In his final years, Matisse is living at the Hotel Regina in Nice, where he has a studio and is making his famous cut outs with the assistance of Lydia (Delectorskaya ). Eventually he cannot get out of bed and needs nursing care, so nurses attend to him. One is named Monique and one voice of the novel is Clémence, a friend of another of his nurses. There’s also Clémence’s friend Camille, who is pregnant to another artist. In a later time we meet Denis, a man in his sixties who was adopted when he was a baby by friends of Clémence. Denis is attracted to a man called Maurice who he allows to sublet his flat while he’s away in Paris trying to uncover the secrets of his birth. All of these character’s stories come in ‘cut outs’ and the reader has to make sense of it. What we do get is an incredible sense of place, from Roberts’s long, lyrical and descriptive passages. We move from character’s memories, back in time to the actual events. The past explains the present day in parts, but not in others. While I didn’t feel I was fully engaged with the story, I did love the sensual descriptions of art and food, and my senses were fully engaged with these parts, The ending, when it came, was sudden and rather abrupt. It felt jarring after such a slow, meandering narrative. It left me thinking.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: