Women's Speaker Series: Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World

March 5, 2017 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

PieceoftheWorld Final

Fee: $30/$25 members - includes an autographed copy of A Piece of the World, refreshments from MKE Localicious, and admission to the sculpture garden. Register by phone at 414-446-8794.

Margy Stratton, founder and executive producer of Milwaukee Reads produces this series of events featuring writers of particular interest to women.

Lynden Sculpture Garden's Women's Speaker Series and Boswell Books welcome Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World, to the Lynden Sculpture Garden, Sunday, March 5, 2-4 pm.

Christina will give a short reading from A Piece of the World, as well as a 30-minute slideshow presentation. Using personal and archival photographs and images, she’ll talk about why she was inspired to write the book, the wide-ranging cultural impact of the painting Christina’s World, the true story behind the novel, and the challenges she faced along the way in turning real people’s lives into a fictional narrative. She’ll also discuss Andrew Wyeth, the extraordinary work he did over the years at Christina Olson’s house, and how the time he spent with her shaped his life and legacy.

About A Piece of the World

A Piece of the World is the story of Christina Olson, the complex woman and real-life muse Andrew Wyeth portrayed in his 1948 masterpiece Christina’s World. The painting — which features a mysterious woman in a pink dress sitting in a field, gazing at a weathered house in the distance — is an iconic piece of American art and hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of their permanent collection.

In A Piece of the World, Kline vividly imagines the life of Christina Olson. Born in the same remote farmhouse in Cushing, Maine that her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by a degenerative muscular disorder that made it difficult to walk, Christina seemed destined to lead an uneventful life. Her fate changed the day 22-year-old Andrew Wyeth knocked on her front door.

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.

"Following her breakout novel, Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline returns to Maine to tell the story behind one of our most iconic paintings, Christina’s World. Juxtaposing the story of how Andrew Wyeth came to paint Christina with Christina’s own life, Kline expertly imagines how an artist sees the interior life of a subject with enough historical detail about the Wyeths, Olsons, and Hathorns (yes, it’s a variation of Hawthorne, as in Nathaniel) to satisfy historical fiction fans. Caught between the elegant summer people and the proud but hardscrabble farm existence of her family, and struggling with life’s disappointments, is Christina cursed by the actions of her ancestor, an unrepentant judge of the Salem witch trials, or simply living out the results of her own decisions? Her interior resonates so brightly that I’m tempted to take out a set of oils and paint her myself."
- Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company

About the Author

Christina Baker Kline is the author of five novels. Her most recent novel, Orphan Train, has spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at # 1, and has been published in 38 countries. More than 100 communities and colleges have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection. Her other novels include The Way Life Should Be, Sweet Water, Bird in Hand, and Desire Lines. Her new novel, based on the iconic painting Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, will be published in Winter 2017.

In addition to her five novels, Kline has written and edited five nonfiction books. She commissioned and edited two widely praised collections or original essays on the first year of parenthood and raising young children, Child of Mine and Room to Grow, and a book on grieving, Always Too Soon. She is the coeditor, with Anne Burt, of a collection of personal essays called About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror, and is co-author, with her mother, Christina Looper Baker, of a book on feminist mothers and daughters, The Conversation Begins. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle/i>, Money/i>, More/i>, Psychology Today/i>, among other places.

Kline was born in Cambridge, England, and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She is a graduate of Yale, Cambridge, and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing. She has taught fiction and nonfiction writing, poetry, English literature, literary theory, and women’s studies at Yale, NYU, and Drew University, and served as Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University for four years. She is a recipient of several Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowships and Writer-in-Residence Fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She supports a number of libraries and other associations in New Jersey and Maine, and is a member of the Advisory Board for Roots & Wings, a nonprofit that provides support for at-risk adolescent and aged-out foster care youth.

Kline lives in an old house in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, David Kline, and three sons, Hayden, Will, and Eli. She spends as much time as possible in an even older house in Southwest Harbor, Maine.


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