REVIEW: Picasso’s Lovers by Jeanne Mackin

Posted March 12th, 2024 by in Blog, Review, Women's Fic - Chick-lit / 6 comments


Picasso’s Lovers by Jeanne Mackin: With a slight meandering opening, Picasso’s Lovers transports us to the earlier decades of the 20th century, wherein Alana, determined to use her writing talents despite the inherent gender prejudice of the time sets out on a journey of intrigue, relationships and artistic magic.

Deep curiosity drives her from the US to France in an attempt to understand the rich inner world of Pablo Picasso, interviewing his lovers, his friends and those he discarded little more than dirt on his shoe. And when the opportunity presents to meet the artist himself, Alana, already questioning her own relationships know that there are just some things you can’t come back from.

The slow opening was offset by Alana Olsen and whilst initially it seems like all Picasso’s lovers were going to get a voice, the bulk of the narrative remained with Alana. Curious, talented and struggling with her own limited reality by way of engagement to William who is determined to make her his house-wife, Alana endeavours to meet with and research the women who inspired one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, one of whom is Sara Murphy who was present during some key cultural shifts on the French Riviera in the 1920’s.

Painted as a womaniser and absolute heart breaker, Alana is disturbed to discover some home truths, and when she finds herself attracted to a hotel owner realises that Picasso’s life and choices have the potential to mirror her own – at least where it counts.

Beautifully drawn and contextually apt, Mackin nailed the historical context of both the 20s and the 50s, tackling some key social, cultural and political issues to ground this novel in a strange mixture of realism and magic. I highly recommend this for any reader who loves historical fiction, romance or traveling a journey of self-discovery.

Book Info:

Publication: 23rd January 2024 | Berkley |

Alana Olson always felt connected to Pablo Picasso. As a recently graduated art historian and aspiring writer in 1950s New York, Alana was bound to encounter the most renowned artist of the era, but it was her late Spanish mother’s particular fascination with the man that inspired Alana’s doctoral thesis on his work.

An assignment for a profile on Picasso from her dream publication leads Alana to intimate interviews with Sara Murphy and Irene Legut—women from a once-vibrant social circle that included the artist. Through their conversations, the women paint a luxurious picture of their time along the French Riviera in 1923, revealing to Alana not only an intimate glimpse into the life and work of the genius, but also unseen works of art, memories of a whirlwind romance, and hidden details that bring Alana closer to Picasso then she ever imagined.

Desperate to know the man who influenced so many parts of her life, Alana dives into the glamorous lives of the past. But to do so she must contend with her own reality, including a strained engagement, the male-dominated world of art journalism, and the rising threat to communists in America.



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