Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drawn from New England by Bethany Tudor

Tasha Tudor's enchanting portrayals of the New England rural scene in her many stories and books have endeared her to generations of readers. In this book Bethany Tudor describes in affectionate detail the special world that her mother has created and made famous. The result is not merely the portrait of an artist, but also a celebration of her highly individual way of life.

Photographs, snapshots from family albums, book illustrations, paintings, and drawings, most of which have never been reproduced before, are an important accompaniment to the text. They reveal the true background of many of Tasha Tudor's books and introduce her family, as well as the Tudor's numerous household pets and farm animals. There are photographs of Mrs. Tudor sketching her children by the fireside, and color reproductions of the first exquisite little books she created for her own pleasure when she herself was a child. We also see her enjoying the many crafts at which she excels - weaving, sewing, gardening, making marionettes, and more.

Tasha Tudor has always lived according to her own lights. Rejecting commercialism, trends and fads in her life as in her art, she has cultivated the virtues of a simpler way of life of the country-dweller of a hundred or so years ago.

Raising a family and pursuing her art career while living in a centuries-old farmhouse without running water or central heating was arduous but, as this book testifies eloquently, wonderfully rewarding. She and her family exemplify without pretension a life-style that many people dream but do not know how to realize. Readers of all ages will welcome this book's insights into the life and work of one of America's most beloved and admired artists.

This was certainly a very romanticized view of Tasha Tudor's life. The tales of Tasha's childhood as a poor little rich girl were hardly palatable.

Although I sincerely dislike Tasha as a person, I must admit that she was a very talented artist.

The author's writing style was very simplistic and the book read more like a children's book than anything else.

When discussing the move from Connecticut to New Hampshire she talks about multiple stops for picnics, etc. as if the trip took days. I mean, really! The entire trip couldn't have taken more than five or six hours. Hello! It was Connecticut to New Hampshire, not Connecticut to California!

What really annoyed me the most was how she harped on what a tough life Tasha had with no running water or electricity. Come on! This was the 50s and 60s - the 1950s and 60s! It's not like she couldn't have had central heat, running water, and electricity if she chose it - she chose that life. She was no saint living in a hovel with no other options!

Okay, I do have to admit that the highlight of the book for me was the pressing of butter from her goats in the butter molds. That was pretty cool, and the resulting product quite pretty. It's all very Martha Stewart.

This one gets six stars. The pictures and illustrations were quite nice and kept the book from a five star status. The daughter seems to be just as in her own world as the mother, so the text leaves quite a bit to be desired. Thankfully it was a fast read.

Rating: ★★★★★★


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