The Bridal Chair

The Bridal Chair

by Gloria Goldreich

Overview: Beautiful Ida Chagall, the only daughter of Marc Chagall, is blossoming in the Paris art world beyond her father's controlling gaze. But her newfound independence is short-lived. In Nazi-occupied Paris, Chagall's status as a Jewish artist has made them all targets, yet his devotion to his art blinds him to their danger.

When Ida falls in love and Chagall angrily paints an empty wedding chair (The Bridal Chair) in response, she faces an impossible choice: Does she fight to forge her own path outside her father's shadow, or abandon her ambitions to save Chagall from his enemies and himself? Brimming with historic personalities from Europe, America and Israel, The Bridal Chair is a stunning portrait of love, fortitude, and the sharp divide between art and real life.

"Only Gloria Goldreich could write a novel so grounded in historical truths yet so exuberantly imaginative. The Bridal Chair is Goldreich at her best, with a mesmerizing plot, elegant images, and a remarkable heroine who...will remain with you long after the last page."—Francine Klagsburn, Jewish Week columnist and acclaimed author of Voices of Wisdom

"In prose as painterly and evocative as Chagall's own dazzling brushstrokes, Gloria Goldreich finely evokes one of the most significant masters of modern art through the discerning eyes of [his] loyally protective daughter."—Cynthia Ozick, award-winning author of Foreign Bodies

Faith Bowers (06/14/17): I read it based on Debbie’s recommendation, Actually I listened to all 16 of the discs which implies that is very long. There is so much details as though the editor did not go through this book to shorten it at all. Not everything that she wrote about was important. It took forever for the Chagalls to leave France during the Nazi regime. When Ida Chagall and her husband finally embark on their ship for the US, the one relevant story is about keeping Chagall’s paintings safe. The rest were more superfluous stories about the trip across the ocean.

Once I got used to the level of detail, I liked the book as I enjoy modern art. Over and over again we see how self centered Marc Chagall and how his daughter caters to him as she makes her living from commission of sales of his art. It could be a great book but I prefer compact novels where every sentence counts.
Rating: ***

Debbie Weiss (04/26/17): This is the story of Ida Chagall, the daughter of artist Marc Chagall. Actually, it is the story of the dynamics of the family members of the Chagall clan. Marc, the most famous member of the family, is a narcissist who seems to only worry about and be impressed with himself. He is not a likable individual. Ida, the only child, is useful to him as a model for his drawings and when older, as his business manager.

Ida marries and tries to forge a life of her own, outside the sphere of influence that her parents hold over her.  However, she is always drawn to care for and to accommodate her selfish father. Her relationship with her father is a complicated one and it undergoes various transformations throughout Marc's two wives and one significant other.

The Chagalls did not have an easy life much of the time, frequently having to  flee from antisemitism. Marc and his first wife, Bella, were born in Vitebsk, Belarus but fled to France and then to the US and then back to France. Marc was always having to be urged to relocate because he believed that he was immune from the tyranny of the Nazis because of his great talent and fame.

While it was very interesting to learn about March Chagall and his daughter and I enjoyed reading this novel, it was way too long. A good editor could have cut out many pages to make the read more cogent and compelling. I am going to rate this book a 3+.
Rating: ***+

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