Book Review: Margaret Sisu’s The Nude

Author Margaret Sisu’s lean yet bold novel, begins with Gwen Mason, an avid art buyer, attempting to purchase a painting by an up and coming Miami artist. The painting, titled “The Champion”, is the recent work of Adam Straker, owner of Gaya Art Collective, a gallery where he showcases his work. From their very first meeting, it is “intrigue at first sight”. Gwen is immediately infatuated with Adam’s boy next door looks, even though he is several years older.

At first glance, it appears that they are “a match made in heaven.” Adam is an unattached painter who has traveled all round the world perfecting his craft. Gwen is an avid collector of art and exhibits the works of various artists at her own studio with the help of Sherrie, her feisty assistant. Gwen’s life is seemingly uneventful. She shares a condo with her mother, who has recently entered the dating scene. Gwen’s father, once a famous painter, left when she was very young.

Adam and Gwen, inevitably begin a relationship. All is well until Gwen begins to take an interest in a nude painting hidden in Adam’s apartment. Adam refuses to sell or discuss the painting and becomes uneasy whenever she brings it up. Also, she continues to have unsettling memories about her father’s departure, which was rather abrupt. Against Adam’s wishes, the painting is revealed to the public who view it as a modern masterpiece.

The national attention causes both of their careers to accelerate unexpectedly until suddenly they find themselves at the center of the high-end art world. Gwen starts to realize that there is a bizarre connection between the painting, her relationship with Adam and her father’s departure. As the story progresses, a plethora of secrets, lies and cover-ups are revealed in a way no reader could ever see coming. 

The Nude is a brief demonstration of the intense catharsis that follows the unleashing of secrets, no matter how horrible they may be. It is a story of how strong the bonds of love and family can be, in the face of lies and attempts to hide the truth. Although some chapters in Sisu’s novel are ambiguous, she has a unique sense of pacing and creates dialogue that is compelling and rhythmic. Her book is moderately esoteric, the hallmark of all good writing. She keeps her readers guessing until the very end.

by Rebecca Nichloson

Author: Rebecca Nichloson

Rebecca Nicholson is a creative writer/editor, screenwriter/playwright, actress, singer-songwriter, and communications professional. She has written numerous articles about literature and the humanities, has completed two television pilots, Human Behavior and Atmore Girl, and she is the author of over a dozen full act, one act, and ten minute dramatic works, such as Hello I’m Eve (winner of the 2013 Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award), Remnants, Cooking with Keisha, Rose Out the Pavement, Collision with Cake, The Applicant, Big Black Pot, Chocolate Barbie, The Dramatist, Big Man/Little Man, Jemima, Charlie Horse, and Bird Man. Her works have been developed and work shopped at the following venues: The Playwright’s Center of Minneapolis (where she was a Many Voices Fellow for two residences), Harlem Classical Theatre (playwrights playground), The Fire This Time Festival, Signature Theatre Company (as part of Columbia University “New Plays Now”), Shakespeare’s Sister Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre Company (Gym Workshop), Pillsbury House Theatre, Bedlam Theatre and Gremlin Theatre. Rebecca holds a M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts and a M.A. in English Literature from Mercy College School of Liberal Arts. She is also the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, and an America-in-Play Fellowship. To learn more visit www.rebeccanichloson.com