Reader's Comments
 A Piece Of The World By Christina Baker Kline -Book Club Reading Guide

A Piece Of The World

by Christina Baker Kline

PBR Book Review:

After reading this beautifully written story, the meaning of Wyeth’s s painting “Christina’s World” will be forever changed for me. Kline gives the reader an intimate look at the real life muse of Andrew Wyeth; the inspiration for this painting. I’m not sure I ever grasped the significance of the painting’s title before reading this book.

Christina Olsen suffered from a rare and debilitating disease, which made her progressively weaker and less mobile as she got older; so by mid-life the scene Wyeth captured in his painting was literally her world. Christina’s life is filled with hardship and sacrifice. With longing, she sees her friends move on with their lives to courtship, marriage and families; while she remians somewhat a prisoner of her disease living in a house with no amenities. Kline ‘s writing allows the reader to feel and experience the depth of Christina’s disappointment and longing for more. And in his painting, Andrew Wyeth captured Christina’s essence and demonstrated to her and the world his deep understanding of her. The book is interesting and inspirational.


Book Club Talking Points:

Members will love discussing Christina’s strong character – it’s unforgettable. I also think the special relationship she had with Wyeth is very discussable. Christina’s early life and her family as well as her relationship with her brother Al will also spark conversation. The book takes a sincere look at living with hardship and sacrifice and the obligation of parents as well as overcoming the challenges of living with an incurable disability. Buy From Amazon.com

*Author Website: http://christinabakerkline.com/

*Discussion Questions



Discussion Questions

1. Do you think Andrew Wyeth captured Christina and her world in his painting Christina's World? After Christina's disappointment with his first painting of her, why do you think she sat for this one - what changed in her relationship with Andrew, if anything, to persuade her to change her mind? Did you gain any insight into this painting from reading this book? Prior to reading this book, were you aware that the girl in this painting was dragging herself along the ground?

2. Christina lived a life of suffering and hardship. Her one ray of sunshine was early in life - when she met Walton. How did Christina change after this relationship didn't work. Do you think she held out hope for another love? How about her friend Betsy, was it difficult for her to break the news to Christina? Was Betsy the right person to do this? What is your opinion of Walton and the way he handled this? Should he have told Christina himself?

3. Once Christina reached mid-life, her world was in a constant state of flux - shrinking and becoming smaller. Because of her debilitating disease, it became harder for her do even the simplest of chores. Discuss Christina’s awareness of this and how it affected her relationships; especially with her brother Al? Discuss her reaction when Al brought a young woman he cared for home. Why do you think Al stopped seeing this woman? Did Christina regret any of her words or actions? Do you think she was selfish? What made Al give up his chance at life away from the farm?

4. The author provides a lot of background on Christina's early years. Discuss her relationship with her parents, her father in particular. Why do you think he did not follow through with her medical appointment after she had a temper tantrum. Do you think he was right? Would this still happen today or was this a function of the times and hardships her family faced. Was it a mistake to not sell the house when they had the opportunity? Discuss the family savings her father spent on his medical treatment. Christina was strong and independent even in the face of her limitations. Where do you think this strength came from. Did her mother play a role?

5. Discuss her parent’s decision to curtail Christina's education so she could help with the chores at home. Do you think continuing in school would have made a difference in Christina's life. Her teacher, when learning she could not continue school, gave Christina a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry, which was a great source of comfort to Christina. Describe why she was so inspired and attached to Emily Dickinson.

6. Andrew Wyeth had a profound impact on Christina. What did he see and convey to her that no one else did? Why do you think Christina and Wyeth had such a special connection? Andrew had a limp- do you think this made him more relatable to Christina? He was also very frank with her. Why do you think she accepted this from him?

7. The farmhouse where Christina lived had no modern amenities; no running water, no electricity, no telephone. Why do you think no improvements were made to the farm. Do you think it was money alone?

Discussion questions by PrincetonBookReview.com - Feel free to use with attribution.

Book Summary
Imprint: William Morrow William Morrow | 02/21/2017 | ISBN 10: 0062356267 | 320 Pages
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World. "Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists. Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy. This edition includes a four-color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World.

 
Looking for more reading suggestions?
Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter