BAR HARBOR — New York Times No. 1 bestselling author Christina Baker Kline will join College of the Atlantic design professor Dru Colbert for a discussion of her newest book, “A Piece of the World,” at COA’s weekly Coffee and Conversation series in the Thomas S. Gates Jr. Community Center on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 9 a.m. The free talk is open to the public.
“A Piece of the World” is an atmospheric novel of friendship, passion and art inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting “Christina’s World.” The novel, Colbert said, paints a very different portrait of Christina than Wyeth’s famous artwork.
“In this mysterious image, referred to as ‘the American Mona Lisa,’ Wyeth paints his subject from the back amidst a vast landscape of grass. Christina Baker Kline, inspired by Wyeth’s painting, creates a very different kind of portrait of Christina Olson. We meet her face to face and follow the details of her life and her connection with the artist,” Colbert said.
“This thoroughly researched and richly detailed book creates such a convincing portrait of Christina that I find myself pondering what she would think in circumstances outside of the book,” Colbert said. “I can’t wait to talk with Christina more about the process of her research and her own ‘relationship’ with Christina Olson.”
To Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Olson seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than 20 years, she was host and inspiration for Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the 20th century.
Kline has written six other novels — “Orphan Train,” “Orphan Train Girl,” “The Way Life Should Be,” “Sweet Water,” “Bird in Hand” and “Desire Lines” — and has written or edited five works of nonfiction. Her 2013 novel “Orphan Train” spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at No. 1, and was published in 40 countries. More than 100 communities and colleges have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection.
Kline was born in Cambridge, England, and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She is a graduate of Yale, Cambridge and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing. She has taught fiction and nonfiction writing, poetry, English literature, literary theory and women’s studies at Yale, NYU and the University of Virginia, and served as writer-in-residence at Fordham University for four years. She is a recipient of several Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowships and Writer-in-Residence Fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is on the advisory board of Roots & Wings, a foster-care organization in New Jersey; The Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor; and the Montclair Animal Shelter. She supports a number of libraries and other associations.
Kline lives in an old house in Montclair, N.J., with her husband, David Kline, and three sons, Hayden, Will and Eli. She spends as much time as possible in an even older house in Southwest Harbor.
College of the Atlantic’s annual summer event series, including Coffee and Conversations, evening lectures and the inaugural Champlain Institute, focuses on the importance of the humanities this year with a program of free presentations, conversations and art from July through early September. The summer series is underwritten by the College of the Atlantic Champlain Society. Visit coa.edu/calendar.