by Rebecca R.
Not your typical novel, Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg is a fictional memoir of a photographer named Lillian Preston and all the people who make up her support system. Her story unfolds through several narrators through letters, journal entries, firsthand accounts, and descriptions (by Lillian’s daughter) of photographs taken by Lillian.
Set primarily in New York City, the story outlines the hardships of being a professional artist. Lillian balances this struggle with single motherhood. Caring for her daughter Samantha and keeping up with her photography practice every day are constantly on Lillian’s mind. As Samantha gets older, this struggle intensifies with a legal battle over photographs that are deemed “obscene,” and charges are filed against Lillian and her gallery owner. You’ll have to read the book to learn the outcome of the case!
Samantha is in her mid-to-late teens when the case makes news headlines, and it affects Lillian and Samantha’s relationship. Later, they are able to find common ground, as they work together on photography projects; the creative spirit is what bonds them. There is a lot of drama and struggle in this story, but the way it is revealed keeps it from being heavy-handed. It also kept me engaged until the conclusion.
I also sensed that Samantha regretted the way she had treated her mom and only started to realize this towards the end of the book. Still, the reader can feel their deep bond throughout, which makes the story truly bittersweet.
Lillian herself—selfishly single-minded in her artistic drive but genuinely protective of her child and often desperately lonely—is both larger than life and thoroughly human. A riveting portrait of an artist who happens to be a woman.Kirkus Reviews
For more New York City-centered novels with wonderful characters and a love of art as well, check out Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me; Amy Shearn’s Unseen City (available from HCLS via interlibrary loan); or E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Rebecca is the Assistant Branch Manager of the HCLS Glenwood Branch. She enjoys creative art projects and taking long walks with her puppy.