The Painted Kiss, Elizabeth Hickey, Atria Books, 2005, 268 pp
This is one of those books that I very much liked while I was reading it, but whenever I think back on it I like it even more. I have recommended it to tons of customers at the bookstore where I work and they all liked it too. It is historical fiction about Gustav Klimt, told from the viewpoint of Emilie Floge, who was in love with Klimt and may have been his mistress.
I liked it because it is about artists and Vienna at the end of the 19th century before it was changed forever by two world wars. Emilie is a somewhat maddening character. In affairs of the heart, she was reticent and passive in the extreme, at least the way Hickey portrays her. She spent most of her life pining for Klimt but never actively made him hers. He was a womanizer and viewed life through his purpose as an artist.
All the same, Emilie grew up to be the owner of one of the most successful fashion salons of her time in Vienna and was an artist in her own right. For a woman of her time, she probably had one of the best lives she could have had.