The Great Man by Kate Christensen

Kate Christensen’s novel The Great Man is more about the women who loved the great man, rather than Oscar Feldmen, a famous, eccentric painter and playboy, known for rejecting the popular abstractionist painters of his time, in order to pave his own path, which was painting women, and only women.

Five years after his death two biographers attempt to record the life of Oscar Feldman, and it’s into the world of Oscar’s women they must delve. Oscar’s wife Abigail and her severely autistic son Ethan. Oscar’s mistress of 40 years, Teddy, and her twin daughters, Teddy’s best friend Lila, and Oscar’s sister Maxine, who was also a popular painter, but not as quite well known.

The hero, or rather heroines, are the women, who even amid their mistakes, especially the mistake of loving Oscar, are able to find hope without the man. It would seem an insult to describe The Great Man as chick lit or even a feminist novel, with its flourished dialogue and passionately drawn characters it makes for an engaging and satisfying read. It won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner award.