I am pleased to be part of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR BOOK TOUR for Karen Ingalls. Not only is Karen a lovely person, but she has written inspiring books. Her non-fiction book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, won first place at the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards in the the category of women’s health.
She is here today to tell us the story behind the story of another book, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully-told story of the love affair between a famous sculptor and his beloved model, Davida, who was forced to remain in the background of his life, even when statues she had modeled for were unveiled to great public acclaim. Her touchstone, in a life that was frequently sad, was to follow her heart.
DECISION TO WRITE ABOUT DAVIDA
Ever since I can remember, my grandfather always appeared sad and troubled. He never talked about his childhood or parents. Even when I asked him questions, he found ways to avoid responding. At one point, my dad and grandmother told me about my grandfather’s life and how ashamed he was of his being a bastard.
I loved my grandfather very much who was very kind, intelligent, and generous. He was very patriotic, hard-working, and caring. The unconditional love my grandparents shared was a love and marriage I wanted.
They had no friends. They were friendly to neighbors, but my grandfather lived in fear that people outside of the family would know about his heritage and he would not be liked or approved of because of the circumstances of his childhood.
I knew that someday I wanted to write about his parents, Augustus Saint-Gaudens who was the preeminent sculptor in America in the late 1800’s and Davida Johnson Clark, his model and mistress. Their love affair lasted over 25 years and they had one child, Louis, my grandfather.
Louis grew up with very little interaction with his father, who spent most of his time doing his sculptures and traveling. Therefore, he did not learn how to be a father because he truly did not have any role model. Unfortunately, this lack of knowing how to be a father was passed on to his three sons.
Davida is a story of art, love, fame, infidelity, and the bond between a mother and her son during the Victorian era.