Staff picks: Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World

Catherine Coles
Coles Notes

Kristin, a member of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries’ relief staff, recently enjoyed a new novel titled A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, the author of the bestselling Orphan Train.

“In this novel, Christina Baker Kline reinterprets Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious, yet iconic, painting Christina’s World,” explains Kristin. “You may be familiar with this compelling painting, in which a ghostly-looking farmhouse sits on the distant horizon in a field of yellow-green grass, while in the foreground a dark-haired woman in a pale pink dress seems to be crawling towards the house.

If you haven’t seen this painting before, then prepare to be hypnotized by it, as this highly talented author decides to turn the face of this helpless looking woman in the painting towards the reader.

“The novel opens on a farm in Cushing, Maine in 1939, where middle-aged Christina Olson resides with her older brother. After a short time, Christina meets a 22-year-old painter named Andrew Wyeth who comes to the house one day and expresses his desire to make paintings of it and the surrounding countryside.

The story then transitions to Christina’s childhood on the farm in the 1890s. Life begins getting difficult for Christina when she contracts a mysterious illness as a girl, which impairs her ability to walk and causes stiffness in her arms and fingers. If you have ever lived on a farm, or heard stories about how people lived generations ago, then you can imagine how this type of illness would make everyday life a bitter struggle since physical activity is required to get through an average day.

“Christina continues telling her story as her young and old selves converge and we are taken on a painful trek with her through life; but when Andrew Wyeth appears with his tackle box full of paints and his gift of observing this barren setting through fresh eyes, we are able to see the landscape begin to brighten. It just goes to show how perception and interest can fully change the feel of any location.”

“If you are looking for a novel to transport you away from the modern world, back to a time when people lived and worked in small towns then this is a book for you,” Kristin says.

“I was struck by how much this novel reminded me of stories I have heard about my family and their way of life from generations long ago. It was a different world back then compared to the world we inhabit now for both good and bad reasons, but this novel highlights the tremendous importance of human connection and what modern technologies have done to improve life. It also shows us how we all desperately need to find people that appreciate us fully, including our faults or medical conditions, to enhance and inspire our lives.”

“This novel is a lovely addition to the author’s previous works,” concludes Kristin. “You will find yourself flying through the pages as you step inside a painting and meet its occupant. A Piece of the World is a story about family history, the houses that build us and how an artist and his muse can come together in the most unlikely of places.”

Reserve A Piece of the World today at your branch of the County of L&A Libraries or online at

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