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Image of Josephine: 06/28/08
Let me start by saying I loved Image of Josephine by Booth Tarkington and that I'm surprised not to see more written about it online. It's one of the last two novels by a Pulitzer Prize winning author (The Magnificent Ambersons, 1918 and Alice Adams, 1921).
Who is Josephine? The most intimate portrait we get of her comes in the four chapters (34 pages) when she's an a typical American teenage girl, though one of means who is probably oblivious of the Great Depression. We learn that she will be taking over as director of her grandfather's fledgling art museum and for reasons never given she is the best choice for the job.
The remainder of the book we never get as close to her again. She's now in her late twenties and the director of the museum. She is revered, feared and loathed by her staff and yet she's fiercely loyal to her grandfather's original vision and continues to live in his home which shares a hallway with the museum.
Instead of seeing the museum through Josephine's eyes, we see it and her through a soldier and distant cousin, Bailey Fount. He has been sent to work in the museum on medical leave after a horrific event on the front line where Bailey was the only survivor. Through his shell shocked eyes we rediscover Josephine Oaklin.
Josephine may be the title character but Bailey is the driving force of the book. I've read a number of novels written during WWII but Bailey is the first character I've come across who comes across as a realistic and broken individual. He's not just a prop for Uncle Sam.
If you can find a copy of this book, read it. It's one of the best I've read this year.
Read it online Google Books
Comment #1: Sunday, June, 29, 2008 at 08:55:27
Good to see someone reading this book, and writing about it!"
Comment #2: Sunday, June, 29, 2008 at 19:55:11
You're welcome. I'd like to read through all his books some day."
Comment #3: Thursday, July, 3, 2008 at 04:31:05
I was attracted just to the title, and your review makes me want to read it even more. I hope they have it at the library."
Comment #4: Thursday, July, 3, 2008 at 20:23:10
If you can't find a copy at your library or local used book store, you can read it online Google Books."