"Coates' thoroughly researched novel . . . succeeds beautifully at recreating the emotional life of this once-obscure artist, whose legacy has lately become the subject of renewed interest. . . . The author also describes the artist's unique spiritual journey and the inspiration for her later, abstract works in vivid prose that's worthy of the artist. An in-depth, highly personal portrait of a remarkable talent."
"Coates's stirring debut imagines the life of painter Agnes Pelton . . . [and] brilliantly captures the creative eye of an unassuming, uniquely talented artist."
"Coates' first novel, a remarkable imagining of modernist artist Agnes Pelton's life, with layered focus on her personal and professional growth in New York and the Southwest, is an intriguing combination of historical fiction and biography. . . . deeply moving. . . . A meditative and memorable story of one artist's complex journey."
"A beautifully written imagining of the intimate world of artist Agnes Pelton, whose spirit and under-appreciated work Mari Coates brings back to life."
--Peg Alford Pursell, author of A Girl Goes into the Forest
"Beautifully lucid, calm, and radiant, this lovely novel illuminates what it really means to shape a life around the making of art. To rise, having been disappointed. To rise, again and again."
--Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever
"A luminous portrait of a woman with remarkable artistic talent, courage, and wisdom. Agnes Pelton grapples with the devastating consequences of a family scandal and her own secret passions during the tumultuous early twentieth century in America, when women had not yet won the right to vote. Beautifully written, the book is not only a feast for the senses but also a profound meditation on the creative process and the regenerative power of art."
--Helen Fremont, author of The Escape Artist
and After Long Silence
"The Pelton Papers
is an extraordinary book. Like its subject, Agnes Pelton, it avoids the obvious at every turn. I loved accompanying her through the first half of the twentieth century to her own visionary modernism as a painter. It's the skill of this novel to make her life of contradictions--solitary, social, ignored, glorified--the quietly fabulous tale that it is."
--Joan Silber, author of Improvement
, winner of the PEN/Faulkner award for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award
"In The Pelton Papers
, the wonderfully gifted Mari Coates recreates in gorgeous detail both Agnes Pelton's work and the life that led to that work. Reading these mesmerizing pages, I felt that I understood all over again the hardships and the joy of making art. From first to last, Pelton is on a journey of the soul and we, her lucky readers, are privileged to accompany her on that journey of darkness and radiance. A truly marvelous debut."
--Margot Livesey, author of Mercury
and The Flight of Gemma Hardy