Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Christina’s World’ painting inspires new novel

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     This July 7, 2011 photo shows the Olson House, which was declared a National Historic Landmark June 30, in Cushing, Maine. The farmhouse was made famous in Andrew Wyeth's painting

    This July 7, 2011 photo shows the Olson House, which was declared a National Historic Landmark June 30, in Cushing, Maine. The farmhouse was made famous in Andrew Wyeth's painting "Christina's World," which depicts Christina Olson dragging herself across a field toward the house, where she lived with her brother for decades until shortly before their deaths in the late 1960s. (AP Photo/Beth Harpaz)

    WHYY’s Arts and Culture reporter, Peter Crimmins, spoke with Christina Baker Kline about the book, “A Piece of the World: A Novel.”

    Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” is probably the most famous artwork by one of America’s best-knonw artists. The Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, native painted it in 1948 while spending a summer in Maine. It depicts a woman lying on a hill covered in tall grass, looking up at a farmhouse.

    The power behind the pastoral scene is the knowledge that the figure in the grass has a degenerative disease and cannot walk.

    The figure is Anna Christina Olson, a person well-known to Wyeth who often painted her over two decades. Olson is now the subject of a new novel, “A Piece of the World,” by Christina Baker Kline. The story is structured in alternating time eras, flipping between her young adulthood and her later, middle-aged years when Wyeth was visiting the house with his easel.

    Kline is also the author of “Orphan Train,” selected in 2015 for the Free Library’s “One Book One Philadelphia” reading program.

    WHYY’s Arts and Culture reporter, Peter Crimmins, spoke with Kline about the book.

    Listen to their conversation below.

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