Soul-bearing letters, pictures from Maybeck's albums, and anecdotes from acquaintances of the family bring Valois’s subject to life and honor her heritage, while detailed endnotes, appendices, and a bibliography are testament to the author’s dedicated research. For all that rigor, Valois offers crisp prose, suffused with poignant observations and dry humor: Maybeck preferred the term “Lady of the Land” to landlady. Valois’s style is sincere and affecting, attentive to nuance; she eschews the literary or academic and in favor of Maybeck’s sensibilities.
Many themes abound within these pages, and at times Valois’s attention shifts away from what readers may find most compelling. Some discussions of architecture border on the tedious, compromising the pacing. Nevertheless, the book remains a reverential celebration of a feisty woman with a zest for growth, art, community, and dynamic living.
Takeaway: This careful consideration of an extraordinary life emphasizes creative expression and the strength of womanhood.
Great for fans of: Nancy Princenthal’s Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art, Molly Peacock’s The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A