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April 29, 2020

Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Don't be half
Be everything
Anything less was wrong, the same as being nothing." (loc 2163)
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

April 2020; She Writes Press; 978-1631528903
ebook, print (330 pages); women's fiction
This beautiful debut novel by Barbara Linn Probst is a look at a woman in transition in her life. Does she want to continue her life like it is or can she make changes and find happiness? The main character is so well written that her flaws and indecisions are apparent as well as her love for life. She is a complex but very real character and it's fascinating to watch her transition through the novel.

Elizabeth is a married mother of two young children who is working on her thesis for her doctorate in Art History. She was trying to show that the months O'Keeffe spent in Hawaii were a transitional time in the artist's personal and painting life that prepared her for what would come next in her life. Elizabeth had always been considered the smart sister and never felt desirable especially to her husband Ben. They worked well together to maintain their family but there was little spark between them. Elizabeth is really questioning her life and then she meets Richard at TaiChi class. Richard was a photographer and was interested in her and in her studies of O'Keeffe and there was a definite spark between them. Richard convinces Elizabeth that the only way she can truly understand O’Keeffe isn’t with her mind but by getting into O’Keeffe’s skin and reenacting her famous nude photos. She agrees to pose for him in his studio and feels a new freedom and love for her life until Richard hangs an exhibit of his photos of her in the nude. She is shocked because this will change her life -- she is an academic and the wife of a lawyer and is upset that she can't make the studio remove the photographs. As she faces issues with the university, her husband, and Richard, she has to decide how much she is willing to risk to be truly seen and known and to find personal happiness?

I absolutely loved Queen of the Owls and watching the main character as she makes changes and takes risks that affect her life using Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings and life as a road map. This is a wonderful book for lovers of the artist but, more importantly, a book that every woman should read about finding her true self - not only as a wife, mother, sister, friend but, most importantly, finding the true person at her center.

The novel mentions many Georgia O'Keeffe paintings throughout and I must admit I have long been a fan of this artist.  I kept Google close at hand so that I could study each painting as it was being discussed in the novel and I gained some new insights into her paintings and life.

Say ‘Aloha’ to New York Botanical Garden’s Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii Exhibit
Two of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings done in Hawaii

Barbara Linn Probst:  The idea for QUEEN OF THE OWLS came from a number of sources that came together at just the right moment. But at its heart is the question I've always had about how to be a complete woman, especially in a culture than tends to dichotomize women into bodies and brains, foxes and owls.

Buy Queen of the Owls at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. i love that you kept referring to google. to me, that means the book is a rousing success
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Sherry - It was an outstanding book. The author referred to several of O'Keeffe's paintings and I had to check them out - which made even more interesting!