fiction favorites…Charlotte in London

charlotte in london cover imageCharlotte in London, by Joan MacPhail Knight, illustrations by Melissa Sweet

Charlotte Glidden is a (fictional) American girl, living in France in 1895. Her father moved the family there in order to study plein air painting under the great master, Claude Monet.

Now, her father is taking them on a jaunt to London. His plan is to spend several months painting his impressions of England. This provides Charlotte an incredible treasure trove of opportunities: viewing the sights of London, watching boat traffic on the Thames, attending fabulous dinner parties and teas with the likes of Henry James, marketing at Covent Garden and Piccadilly, the cotswoldsventuring into the Cotswolds, and meeting famous artists such as James Whistler, Sir John Lavery, Edwin Abbey, and above all, John Singer Sargent.

It is Mr. Sargent that they are most interested in, with Charlotte’s mother greatly desiring that he paint her portrait. As the Glidden family moves about England and the glittering circles of artists and collectors and

The Black Brook by John Singer Sargent

The Black Brook by John Singer Sargent

writers there, Charlotte learns more and more about the current art scene, and in particular about Sargent’s life, temperament, and painting genius.

This is, I believe, the fourth of the Charlotte books in which we meet artists and their worlds in such enchanting, creative stories.  Charlotte in Giverny meets Monet for the first time, in Paris she meets a number of the Impressionists, and in the midst of all this European living, she voyages to New York for a special exhibition. Her journals are the format of the books, and are full of the enthusiasm and delight of a young girl encountering these thrilling people and places.

Melissa Sweet’s collage art is perfect for the scrapbook look of these accounts. Color reproductions of masterpieces by the featured artists fit in alongside Sweet’s bright, charming watercolors and ephemera. The pages are a visual joy that draw us like a magnet into the lively, fascinating text.

charlotte in london illustration melissa sweet

These are fantastic introductions to the art of this period, with this book capturing as well the glories of England at the turn of the century. Included are short biographical entries on each featured artist and an author’s note clarifying what the fictional Charlotte would truly have encountered on such an expedition. It’s 64 profusely-illustrated pages long and will capture the interest of ages 7 and up — younger for some artistic souls.

Here’s the Amazon link:  Charlotte in London