A book club favorite!
ARTIST, SOLDIER, LOVER, MUSE
Arthur D. Hittner
A Novel by
Freshly graduated from Yale, Henry J. Kapler parlays his talent, determination, and creative energy into a burgeoning art career under the wing of painters such as Edward Hopper and Reginald Marsh. The young artist first gains notoriety when his painting of a symbolic handshake between a young, African-American baseball player and his Southern white rival is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant while on display at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. Yet even as his art star rises, Henry’s personal life turns precarious—and perilous—when his love for Fiona, a young WPA muralist, collides with his growing attraction to the exquisitely beautiful Alice, an ex-chorus girl who becomes his model and muse. Alice is the girlfriend of Fiona’s cousin, Jake Powell, the hotheaded, hard-drinking outfielder for the New York Yankees whose jealousy explodes into abuse and rage, endangering the lives of all three. While Henry wrestles with his hopelessly complicated love life, he also struggles mightily to reconcile his pacifism with the rabid patriotism of his Jewish-Russian émigré father. As war draws near, Henry faces two difficult choices, one of which could cost him his life.
Print ISBN: 978-0-9989810-1-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9989810-3-1
347pp. softcover (5.5 x 8.5) 2017
List Price $16.95 (print); $9.99 (ebook)
What critics say:
"This historical novel reads like a labor of love. Or, of two loves, to be precise: art and baseball. Retired lawyer Arthur D. Hittner, who has written extensively on both art of the ‘30s and ‘40s and of baseball, incorporates both in “Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse.” Inspired by the short, tragic life of little-known painter Harold J. Rabinovitz, it features fictional Henry J. Kapler, who defies his émigré father and heads to New York in 1936 to pursue a career as an artist. In this heady time for art, Henry meets some Modernist artistic stars, and witnesses some historic baseball. He also makes an artistic splash, along with an amorous mash-up. These all play out against the specter of looming war, and Jewish pacifist Henry must decide what to do against the Nazi threat. This is a rewarding, pleasurable read. Hittner writes knowledgeably and discerningly. Including historic artists, movements, baseball players, and the political setting, he lets us dip into a vibrant period."
Christine Wald-Hopkins, Arizona Daily Star
"In crafting Kapler’s rich story, Hittner has skillfully interwoven fictional lovers and friends of Kapler with real events and people from the first half of the 20th century. Hittner has succeeded in creating a story that not only holds the reader’s interest but may inspire further reading about some lesser-known real people and historical incidents."
Maine Antique Digest
"Hittner surpasses the brilliance of The Art Forger with his well-painted New York Depression era filled with characters larger than the canvases Henry Kapler painted them on....Hittner encapsulates the heart and soul of art and love just as Henry captures the raw emotion of the women and situations surrounding him.... [E]xquisitely sketched characters and light shed on a historical time period....A swift and intensive plot and intellectual read.... Rich in culture—from the arts and baseball to jazz and the New York lifestyle—Hittner weaves passions to create his own masterpiece. By far, Artist, Soldier, Lover, Muse is one of the best-written books that I have read this year. The ending is poetic and will stick with readers for a long time to come."
The Uncorked Librarian
What readers say:
"As an art historian I can be pretty picky when choosing historical fiction, but this book nailed it. It was captivating without being overdone and unbelievable. It truly brought 1930s New York City to life. While the book focuses on the young artist, Henry, and the development of his artistic career and romantic relationships, the author accurately places him in the rich, yet complicated era of the 1930s. The book offers feelings of nostalgia of old New York and the golden age of baseball, but Hittner does not sugarcoat the time period. He accurately weaves Henry's story with scenarios regarding divisions of gender, class, and race against the backdrop of an impending war. I highly recommend this book!"
Olivia Miller, Curator of Exhibitions and Education, University of Arizona Museum of Art
"This is a a very unusual novel, and a very satisfying one, especially for readers who would like to linger and spend time in the world of American art of the 1930s - a time when American public buildings were being decorated with murals produced under the auspices of the WPA. Page after page, the narrative grows in force, possibly because of the author's great affection for the world he describes, as well as for his central character - a young artist who is full of optimism and belief in the power of art. By the time I reached the final pages of the story, I was deeply involved in the life of the protagonist. . . . I enjoyed this moving book greatly and recommend it to you."
Barry Lenson, son of WPA Artist Michael Lenson (1903-1971)