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The flames
Where is it?
Fiction/Biography Profile
Egon Schiele (Male), Painter, Painter of erotic art
Adele Harms (Female), Edith's sister; neighbor of Egon Schiele
Edith Harms (Female), Adele's sister; neighbor of Egon Schiele
Gertrude (Female), Egon's younger sister; possessive
Vally Neuzil (Female), Model, Egon Sciele's lover and muse
Bohemian lifestyle
Vienna, Austria - Europe
Time Period
-- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews
Library Journal Review
DEBUT Haydock's first novel is beautiful and haunting, breathing life into the stories of painter Egon Schiele and the women who supported him. In Vienna in the early 20th century, Egon Schiele is an artist both renowned and reviled for his controversial portrayals of the human form. Having grown up in an impoverished family, Egon and his sister Gertrude share a special bond, and she loves his art. With Gertrude's encouragement, Egon continues his passion in secret, until the day he is finally able to leave home (and Gertrude) to find inspiration from his hero, Gustav Klimt. Klimt's current model is an intriguing young woman named Vally, who quickly becomes one of Egon's growing list of muses. Two sisters from a higher-class family, Adele and Edith, also find their way into the artist's circle, and a dangerous infatuation soon forms. VERDICT Haydock builds her story on the real women who surrounded Schiele. Told from various points of view, it is a love story dedicated to Gertrude, Adele, Edith, and Vally. Recommended for general and historical fiction readers, as well as those interested in how life in Schiele's inner circle might have looked.--Jen Funk
Publishers Weekly Review
Haydock's stunning debut captures the ecstatic shock of erotic art during the bohemian period of the Vienna Secession, dialing in on the brief life of Egon Schiele (1890--1918) and the four women who influenced the painter. They are his voyeuristic neighbors, sisters Adele and Edith Harms; his possessive younger sister, Gertrude; and the model Vally Neuzil, who was his lover and muse. Sections devoted to each woman explore the jealousy, guilt, and grief that swirl around their relationships with the artist. Adele takes to spying on Egon from across the street, deluded by the belief that they'll marry, and survives a bout of the flu; Gertrude recounts the Schieles' difficult childhoods with their abusive, syphilitic stationmaster father; Edith vies for Egon's attention, which leads to a tumultuous romance; and Vally remains independent. After Vally and Egon shelter a girl who's being abused by her father, the father presses charges of kidnapping and corrupting a minor (Egon is also charged with pornography). By the end, not all of the characters escape WWI or the Spanish flu pandemic, and Haydock's superb research captures the era's rich atmosphere. This assured effort will leave readers eager to see more from Haydock. Agent: Juliet Mushens, Mushens Entertainment. (Mar.)
Set in the bold, Bohemian art world of early 20th-century Vienna, award-winning author Sophie Haydock's The Flames is the electrifying untold story of the four muses of controversial painter Egon Schiele.

Vienna at the dawn of the 20th century is an opulent, extravagant city teeming with art, music, and radical ideas. A place where the social elite attend glamorous balls in the city's palaces while young intellectuals decry the empire across the tables of crowded cafés. It is a city where anything seems possible--if you are a man.

From this world emerge four muses, women whose bodies are rendered in intimate detail by the charming yet controversial young artist Egon Schiele: Gertrude, his sister, is possessive, single-minded, and jealous; his mistress, Vally, a young woman from an impoverished background, is making her way as a model for the famed painter Gustav Klimt; and Edith and Adele Harms, wealthy sisters, are vying to become the wife of their scandalous neighbor Schiele.

Schiele's work--and private life--sends shock waves through Vienna's elite; yet, determined to defy convention and forge their own paths, these women risk everything--their reputations, their most precious relationships, and their sanity and souls--to hold on to the man they adore. As the Spanish influenza pandemic ravages Europe and World War I throws off course their lives forever, all it will take is one act of betrayal to change everything. In her richly rendered and deeply researched debut novel, Sophie Haydock brings this unforgettable world to incandescent life as she gives these women the chance to have their say.

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