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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Under the Egg


I have a passion for art history, something I did not recognize as a young person but which has developed over time. The tip should have been my love of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (and that it was published in the year I was born). So, I was anxious to read Under the Egg, the debut novel by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. 

It begins with a flashback. "Look under the egg," says Jack, a former security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "There's a letter," Theodora Tenpenny's grandfather tells her as he lays dying. "And a treasure." Then he adds, "Before it's too late."

Theo and Jack had a daily ritual under the egg, the painting of an egg, that is. They would select the most perfect egg from those laid by their hens and set it in a place of honor: a ceramic bowl made by Theo's grandmother. Until the next morning, the egg would sit under the painting, "it's only job to echo the painting above it." After searching all around their messy dwelling, Theo accidentally spills rubbing alcohol over the surface of the egg canvas. She swipes and dabs at the paint until her heart sinks. "I could just make out - under the paint that was once that everlasting egg - a bird in flight." 

And thus begins the mystery and extended art history lesson that includes a new friend named Bhodi, connections with unlikely experts (like Sanjiv, the nut vendor), a few excellent librarians, an in-depth study of Raphael, odd encounters with the strange French neighbor, and revelations about Jack that Theo never in a million years would have thought possible. Loved it.

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful eggs! If you have an interest in art history, now is the time to enjoy Art in Bloom at the MIA. Only a few more days before the flowers wilt, but it is so delightful each and every year.

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  2. Once again I go straight from your post to the library catalog, and place my request.

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  3. Thank you for another great recommendation, Julie.

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