The Art of Love: Origin of Sinner's Grove by A.B. Michaels
The first part of The Art of Love is all about August Wolff's quest to find his riches and prove himself whether to his family or himself is up for debate. With the disappearance of his wife and daughter, Wolff finds himself in a quandary as he begins his new life after discovering gold. When his search for his wife and daughter repeatedly comes up empty, he adopts a life in San Francisco, California filled with the trappings of happiness.
Michaels then introduces Amelia Bennett, a talented artist, who is forced to make decisions for the sake of her family rather than her own desires. When the situation becomes unbearable she hatches a plan with her fellow artist and friend, Sander de Kalb, who has reasons of his own to want to start over, to leave behind their lives in New York for San Francisco.
After she and Sander move to San Francisco, Amelia often feels the pangs of the son she left behind but knows in her heart she made the right decision, not only for herself but for all involved.
As Amelia's popularity as an artist is on the rise, she meets August Wolff, whose reputation leaves her hesitant to get to know him. When he commissions her to paint a mural for him and find art for his home, she's intrigued by more than the project at hand as is he.
Michaels creates two flawed but lovable characters and surrounds them with characters the reader wants to know better. She weaves their story lines together in a way that engages the readers senses and confronts stereotypes. The Art of Love delves into the ideas of what love and friendship mean while looking at the complications of marriage and divorce. There's a sense of modernity about this historical novel that made me feel a bit sad that some things haven't changed more than they have since the 1890s.