Review of Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

davida

Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens by Karen Ingalls

I have just finished reading this book by Karen Ingalls, and my review will follow the book blurb found on amazon.

“Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the premier American sculptor from 1880-1920. Though married he fell in love with his model, Davida Johnson Clark and their love affair lasted more than twenty-five years. This fictionalized account will introduce the reader to some of the great art, historical facts, and the moral values of that era. 

The author is the great-granddaughter from this union and her purpose in writing the book is to bring recognition to Davida and remove any negative stigma to her. Her grandfather suffered his whole life from being labeled a bastard while growing up and this story is intended to remove that label.

How can a love affair last for such a long period of time? What affect did it have on his career? How did his wife and son cope with their being a second family?

This is a compelling and beautiful love story that has needed to be told.”

Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is a fictional memoir and is my first read in a fictional memoir genre. Ingalls’ infused bits and pieces into this memoir based on a true story, true characters, and true family history. I felt like I was truly in the time period that this memoir recreates, and it shows how Ingalls’ did her research in this well-written book.

Ingalls’ writing made the characters come to life in such a manner that I was compelled to look up Augustus Saint-Gaudens and see his works. I now know that one piece of his sculptures, William Tecumseh Sherman, which is located on a corner of New York’s Central Park has been a piece I’ve studied and photographed on every trip I have made to New York City.

Ingalls writing is perfectly edited and extremely well written. This intimate and sad love story is filled with all the emotions one would expect from a story of this type, as well as the additional emotional parts since Saint-Gaudens was married at the time. I place this book in the adult category of memoir due to some mature scenes and the fact that this is a love triangle. I was sad for Davida as I felt she deserved more in her life than what she had, or lack of thereof. I felt the hurt of all three in this love triangle, and I don’t favor one character over another. Davida was Saint-Gaudens’ model mistress and she bore a child out of wedlock, and this child suffered the most – for all of his life actually, as illegitimate, and not belonging to a society simply due to his birth status. He fought his whole life to tamper down his birth, and all that happened to him, working on living a life separate from his true birth, and living a life of bitterness and hate. Ingalls’ weaved historical truth and fictionalized parts so well that this is truly a perfect read. I highly recommend this memoir!

 

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7 thoughts on “Review of Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

  1. Thank you for your very kind and thorough review of Davida. This is a book I wrote with great pride for my grandfather and great-grandparents. My grandfather never spoke of his parents, there is no confirmed knowledge about Davida so I used my creativity to create this story.
    Not only is their love story a beautiful one, but also it is important to bring recognition to Saint-Gaudens and his contributions to the art of sculpture.

    Liked by 1 person

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