Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Review: Wildings by Duff Hart-Davis

The Story: Wildings explores the strange and fascinating life of one of my favorite artists, Eileen Soper. Her wildlife art is some of the best ever created, reflecting her love for animals. She is most famous, however, for illustrating many popular books of her day. Wildings reveals how her eccentricities came to dominate her life and sometimes harm her, yet never took away her passion for art and animals.

My Thoughts: When I opened up this book, the many beautiful drawings and paintings it contains were immediately captivating, displaying many facets of Eileen Soper’s talent. The book is worth having just for the pictures. The story of her life, however, is also memorable, and even though the writing is fairly matter-of-fact, this book is still one of the best biographies I’ve read.

Eileen Soper’s life was both wonderful and sad. In some ways her life was as magical as a Disney fairy tale, for her artistic talent brought her international fame, she had a gift for befriending wild animals, and she lived on the edge of a large, one-of-a-kind garden for most of her life. Yet in other ways her life was a tragedy. Obsessiveness squelched some of the magic in her life, causing her to become reclusive and to hide away much great art from the world. In the end, the story of her life is both an inspiration and a cautionary tale. I recommend Wildings to anyone interested in unusual biographies or art.

Content Overview: A brief reference to mild, inadvertent innuendo from an innocent person.

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