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Austin Fraser's painting teacher had indoctrinated him with the view that unless something could be turned into art, it simply was t worth his time. And in this he included people. Austin certainly applied the principle to Sara Pengelly, who lived alone on the rthern edge of Lake Superior, and whom Austin travelled rth to visit for fifteen summers. During his annual visits Austin scrutinised Sara's every nuance of face and body with a bloodless and voracious intimacy - accumulating and hoarding her image for the paintings he executed in his New York studio during the rest of the year. He was her lover but he never dreamt of loving her. Art did t demand it. THE UNDERPAINTER is a breathtaking vel that examines art as exploitation, whilst interweaving captivating narrative threads of First World War drama; a world of war the purist Austin sbbishly despised until his friend in the field was himself shattered.
Jane Urquhart is the author of the novels: THE WHIRLPOOL, CHANGING HEAVEN, AWAY, which won the Trillium Award in 1993 and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and THE STONECARVERS. She lives in south-western Ontario.