Naked Under the Lights
by Judith Peck
Black Rose Writing

"He was still a painter immersed in making art."

Bert Kossoff, a painting teacher at the Art Student League in New York City, is well-known for his abstract art style as well as his womanizing ways. His wife, Ruth, ignores his infidelities while his daughter, Sonata, who is enamored with her father and his work, is completely unaware of them. As Sonata finds her own passion and path into the art world, she learns of survival, intimacy, and determination, all while reckoning with uncovered family secrets. Her enthusiasm throughout the novel is infectious, and she makes for a good vessel for the story—someone on the fringes of the art world who finds themselves in it, trying to figure out the driving force of an artist.

With the Art Student League as a backdrop, this novel centers on the Kossoff family, their fractured illusions of each other, and how passion binds them together. Bert is the figurehead around which the story revolves, and his tenuous relationships between his family and his models reverberate throughout the book, even when Bert himself isn't present. The author is an artist herself, familiar with the industry's ins-and-outs, and brings that authenticity to the novel in her descriptions of the artists at work, as well as the mechanisms at the Art League and the conversations around art. Readers are easily immersed in this world of passion and hard work, a field where passion for the medium can overlap with love for the subject. The author captures the emotional intensity of these artists at work as well as their various charades.

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