The Oak Lovers-For my beloved daughter Kim
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When I captured the original version of this image, I immediately thought of my daughter Kim and all the years she spent writing her first historical novel, The Oak Lovers. Here's how she describes this labor of love: In the summer of 1900, the famed Roycroft art colony sets the stage for scandal as a married, consumptive artist becomes enraptured by a spirited illustrator half his age. Carl Ahrens, an acclaimed Canadian landscape painter, christens Martha Niles his Madonna—his muse, his confidant and his soul-mate.
In a society where reputation is critical, Madonna flees to spare them both from ruin, leaving Carl with the wife who despises him, in a community that discredits his genius. But like the trees in his paintings, Madonna and Carl grow more fused over time and not even distance can sever their bond. They sacrifice family and convention to carve a life together—one fraught with debilitating disease, destitution, and the malice of his peers, the future Group of Seven. Ultimately, their love transcends unimaginable tragedy and loss.
Based on the lives of my great-grandparents, THE OAK LOVERS follows Carl and Madonna’s journey from the art colonies of New York, to the Spanish missions in California, to Edwardian Toronto and the Ontario countryside.
To say the least, I'm very proud of Kim's accomplishment. She's now caught up in the editing process.
Among the layers I added to this photo, is an old photo of Carl and Madonna. The ghostly result is so fitting in that Kim often felt her great-parents told her what to write.
Also by Deborah Downes
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