THE GRAVITY OF BIRDS (2013)
In this compelling debut novel, an art authenticator and an art historian are employed by a famous, reclusive painter to sell a never-before-seen portrait, leading them to discover devastating secrets two sisters have kept from each other, and from the artist who determined the course of their lives.
How do you find someone who wants to be lost?
Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.
Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.
In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again.
Ellen Sussman (French Lessons) calls The Gravity of Birds “a brilliant tale, written in evocative language, and every page is pure seduction. I want to scream from the rooftops: read this book!”
"If literary fiction is on the verge of extinction, Bay Area writer Tracy Guzeman’s debut novel, “The Gravity of Birds,” ought to inspire new hope for an endangered species. With its deft interweaving of psychological complexity and riveting narrative momentum, with its gorgeous prose and poetic justice, Guzeman’s book is about sibling rivalry, tragedies and resurrections. And it’s irresistibly exquisite." —Elizabeth Rosner, San Francisco Chronicle
“The captivating prose of Tracy Guzeman’s first novel instantly pulls you into the lives of the Kessler sisters, Alice and Natalie, and their intertwined love story with Thomas Bayber, an attractive young artist. Forty years later, as Bayber lies dying, he sends two trusted, but disparate, colleagues to find a missing painting that the Kessler sisters possess. Clandestine love affairs, painterly clues and a world of untruths come seamlessly together in this exceptional debut.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“In this richly textured novel, two young sisters encounter art and their sensuality under the watchful gaze of a seductive painter. Forty-four years later, when a never-before-seen portrait of them is unveiled, a complex web of jealousy and heartache is exposed.” — O, The Oprah Magazine
“In this riveting debut novel, a famous artist-recluse unveils a 40-year-old painting never shown before, then sends collectors on a scavenger hunt to locate two teenage girls who posed for him, but disappeared decades ago.” — Good Housekeeping
“Talented…incredibly assured…her cast of endearing eccentrics and her stellar prose will win a loyal audience.” — Booklist
Rights: S&S, US; Harper Collins, UK; Verlagsgruppe Random House, Germany; Martinez Roca, Spain; Flammarion, France; Mondadori, Italy; Empuries, Catalan; Hemiro, Russia; Novo Conceito, Brazil; Mozaik Knjiga, Croatia; Lannoo, the Netherlands; Sichuan People’s Publishing, China
THE TAXIDERMIST'S DAUGHTER (IN DEVELOPMENT)
Lavinia Cates moves to a desolate island on the other side of the country intending to leave both her past and her family behind. But Skinnisfree Isle harbors dark secrets of its own, and once the two people she cares for most, her father and her uncle, manage to track her down, the new life Lavinia has carefully constructed erupts in violence. Realizing how little she knows about any of her fellow islanders, Lavinia is left trying to decide who she can trust, while the lives of three people, one of them her own, hang in the balance. In The Taxidermist’s Daughter, history has the frightening power to interrupt the present.