Martha’s Vineyard, 1898. In her first life, Ida Russell was a painter, who confidently walked the halls of Boston’s renowned Museum School, enrolling in art courses that were once deemed “unthinkable” for women to take, and showing a budding talent for watercolors. Now she is Ida Pease, resident of a seaside sheep farm and wife to Ezra. Cold and distant, Ezra often leaves her to run the farm while he and his business partner, Mose, operate their salvage vessel. Then Ezra and Mose’s ship goes down, with all passengers presumed dead, and Ida feels relief rather than loss. What follows is her new story, the one she was meant to live.
Painting the Light is beautifully rendered and atmospheric. Ida is no shrinking violet; she is strong, capable, and spirited with a powerful talent. She doesn’t buckle under the criticism of the townspeople when she wears trousers, rides a bike, makes her own decisions about the farm… and falls in love. In short, she is captivating. It is an absorbing read in a bucolic setting with interesting twists. One thing I know for sure — sheep farming is not for me. 4 stars.
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: Emily’s House by Amy Belding, You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley, Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict, The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner