The Lioness of Boston (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this historical fiction based on Isabella Stewart Gardner's life - a very engaging account of how Gardner was shunned by Boston's elite, and eventually stopped caring or trying to win their favor, instead choosing her own path. While her life definitely had it share of dramatic moments, the author's telling of those moments is done in an understated way, so we see them as pieces of the whole of Isabella's life, rather than as a plot point, giving the story a nice flow. I enjoyed the final third of the book - about Isabella's collections, and how the museum came to be - the most. A very well-written story about a fascinating woman.— Michelle
A deeply evocative and imaginative portrayal of the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner, the daring trailblazer for women everywhere. Her vision not only created an inimitable legacy in American art but also transformed a city.
By the time Isabella Stewart Gardner opened her Italian palazzo-style home as a museum in 1903 to showcase her collection of old masters, antiques, and objects d'art, she was already well-known for scandalizing Boston's polite society. But when Isabella first arrived in Boston in 1861, she was twenty years old, newly married to a wealthy trader, and unsure of herself. Puzzled by the frosty reception she received from stuffy bluebloods, she strived to fit in. After two devastating tragedies and rejection from upper society, Isabella discovered her spirit and cast off expectations. Freed by travel, Isabella explores the world of art, ideas, and letters, meeting such kindred spirits as Henry James and Oscar Wilde. From London and Paris to Egypt and Asia, she develops a keen eye for paintings and objects, and meets feminists ready to transform nineteenth century thinking in the twentieth century. Isabella becomes her own person, painted by John Singer Sargent in a portrait of daring d colletage, and fond of such stunts as walking a pair of lions in the Boston Public Garden. And finally becomes the first woman to open a museum in the United States. The Lioness of Boston is a portrait of what society expected a woman's life to be, shattered by a courageous soul who rebelled and was determined to live on her own terms.