The Gravity of Birds

The Gravity of Birds

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In this compelling debut novel, an art authenticator and an art historian are employed by a famous, reclusive painter to sell a never-before-seen portrait, leading them to discover devastating secrets two sisters have kept from each other, and from the artist who determined the course of their lives.

Forty-four years after Alice and Natalie Kessler first met the brilliant young painter, Thomas Bayber, Bayber unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Alice, and Natalie. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting. But their task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Alice and Natalie, who seem to have disappeared.

Told in alternating chapters that weave revelations about the sisters’ past with clues Finch and Jameson discover in the present, this story sets three characters on a collision course with their histories, showing how families tear themselves apart and then try to bind themselves together again, not always creating the same fabric.

Praise for Tracy Guzeman
and The Gravity of Birds

“In this richly textured novel, two young sisters encounter art and their sensuality under the watchful gaze of a seductive painter. Forty-four years later, when a never-before-seen portrait of them is unveiled, a complex web of jealousy and heartache is exposed.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“If literary fiction is on the verge of extinction, Bay Area writer Tracy Guzeman’s debut novel, “The Gravity of Birds,” ought to inspire new hope for an endangered species. With its deft interweaving of psychological complexity and riveting narrative momentum, with its gorgeous prose and poetic justice, Guzeman’s book is about sibling rivalry, tragedies and resurrections. And it’s irresistibly exquisite.”  
San Francisco Chronicle

“Talented…incredibly assured…her cast of endearing eccentrics and her stellar prose will win a loyal audience.”

“Upon opening Tracy Guzeman’s debut novel, “The Gravity of Birds,” readers are immediately drawn into the plot. Much like the paintings that the book describes, it is the details that hold our attention: the secrets we learn about the characters that make us care about them…It is only at the end, when the puzzle is completed, that we see all the pieces Guzeman so cleverly layered into the story.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Riveting debut”
Good Housekeeping

“The captivating prose of Tracy Guzeman’s first novel instantly pulls you into the lives of the Kessler sisters, Alice and Natalie, and their intertwined love story with Thomas Bayber, an attractive young artist. Forty years later, as Bayber lies dying, he sends two trusted, but disparate, colleagues to find a missing painting that the Kessler sisters possess. Clandestine love affairs, painterly clues and a world of untruths come seamlessly together in this exceptional debut.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A lovely, mesmerizing novel. The Gravity of Birds combines the drama of warring sisters, the mystery of a missing painting, and the sorrow of lost love into a haunting elegy that will, like the artwork it describes, leave you breathless. The paintings and characters that Tracy Guzeman creates will seep into your imagination and take up permanent residence, changing the way you think about art.”
Tiffany Baker, author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County and The Gilly Salt Sisters

“Tracy Guzeman’s The Gravity of Birds is part mystery, part psychological drama and intriguing love story. This is a stunning debut. It’s a brilliant tale, written in evocative language, and every page is pure seduction. I want to scream from the rooftops: read this book!”
Ellen Sussman, author of the New York Times bestseller French Lessons

“I really loved it! A  deep and compelling page-turning story handled with the lightest of touches. The writing is fantastic.  It’s gone straight to the place on my bookshelf reserved for my favourite reads.”
—Louise Douglas, bestselling author of The Secrets Between Us, a Richard & Judy 2012 Summer Book Club read

“Lovely! The Gravity of Birds is a warm-hearted, assured, and haunting debut. In prose that is always graceful and often breathtaking, Tracy Guzeman delivers a compelling story of the love of art, and the art of love.”
Meg Waite Clayton, author of the national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters

“I absolutely loved it. A beautifully written, compelling story.”
Lucy Clarke, author of The Sea Sisters, a Richard & Judy 2013 Summer Book Club read

“The Gravity of Birds is one of those rare, exquisitely written novels that haunt you long after you’ve finished the last page. Guzeman writes of both the fragility of the human spirit and its inner strength. The book unfurls like a hidden canvas, soaked with color, emotional longing, and a desire to make sense of what is often too painful to be said without the assistance of art. It is a novel not to be missed.”
Alyson Richman, best-selling author of The Lost Wife

Tracy Guzeman on her debut novel, The Gravity of Birds