WAM Reading Group

WAM Reading Group

The Worcester Art Museum Library maintains an active group of readers who enjoy books relating to art. We periodically come together for book discussions, and often visit the Museum for special tours relating to books we've read.

To join the group, email library@worcesterart.org.

Current Book

The Secret Life of Sunflowers by Marta Molnar

We will meet for a book discussion at 6:00pm on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 via Zoom.

“The Secret Life of Sunflowers” book cover

“In this novel, two strong-willed women strive to build artistic, independent lives in different centuries. High-powered Los Angeles–based auctioneer Emsley Wilson has a lot on her plate. She spends her days arranging political auctions for celebrity donors, and after-hours, she has a complicated personal life to manage. Her ex-boyfriend and business partner, Trey, dumped Emsley for a close friend of hers who also works for their auction house. But Emsley always makes time for her grandmother Violet, a legendary New York City artist, gallery owner, and socialite recovering from a stroke in a rehabilitation facility. When Violet sells her Greenwich Village brownstone, Emsley’s mother insists that she clean it out because 'who knows what risqué pictures of Violet with her celebrity friends might be at the house.' Violet then presses an ancient diary into Emsley’s hands before she returns to the West Coast. On the plane, Emsley begins to read it and is instantly transported to 19th-century Amsterdam and the life of Johanna Bonger, van Gogh’s sister-in-law. Like Emsley, Johanna wants to chart her own path as an independent woman. But according to Johanna’s mother, 'Women are like the canals, steady and calm, the supporters of life. Men are like barges traveling to the seaports, having adventures and collecting their treasures.' Emsley barely has time to read the diary before she has to confront Trey’s plot to dissolve their business, which transforms into a demand that she pay him $1 million within 30 days for his shares or walk away from everything she’s built. As Emsley struggles to save her business, she is drawn into Johanna’s family life and quest to establish van Gogh’s artistic legacy. An engrossing, impeccably researched tale connecting passionate, creative women across time.” — Kirkus Reviews

Previous Books

  • A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
  • Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro
  • Basquiat: A Graphic Novel by Paolo Parisi
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
  • England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams
  • I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira
  • Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor
  • Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
  • The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
  • Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis by Jeffrey H. Jackson
  • Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska by Rockwell Kent