Elevate Difference

The Love Ceiling

As I started to write the review for this book, I realized that this is one of two books I have recently read about artists, more specifically painters—The Danish Girl being the other book that centered on artists/painters. I found the story of The Love Ceiling intriguing because the protagonist is a sixty-four-year-old wife, mother, and daughter of a famous artist father and long suffering Japanese-American mother who has recently passed away from cancer.

Like many women of the so-called sandwich generation, Anne Kuroda Duppstadt has finally given herself permission to pursue her passion—that of becoming a painter—when she finds herself once again tending to the needs of her family: her thirty-two-year-old daughter moves home after discovering that her partner, Richard, has been cheating on her with a colleague at the hospital where he’s a resident, and Anne’s husband is not handling his impending retirement well and struggles with bouts of depression. This leads her to reach the conclusion at a certain point in the novel that “there is a glass ceiling for women... and it’s made out of the people we love.” Amidst all of this, Anne finally finds the courage to stand up to her domineering father, a man who demands center stage at all times and told her many years ago that she didn’t have what it takes to be a real artist.

I’m not sure why this is the case, but I rarely have the opportunity to read a book that features a sixty-four-year-old protagonist. Being a forty-something single woman, I wasn’t sure I would relate to this character, but I found myself immediately drawn into her feistiness, sense of humor, and honesty that is revealed as the reader progresses through the novel. I also enjoyed the author’s description of the natural beauty of the surroundings through the eyes of an artist (Anne is a gifted landscape artist). Painting with words came to my mind as I was reading this book.

I also had to admit to myself that I made the mistake of assuming that the internal life of a sixty-four-year-old wouldn’t be as interesting a read as that of a younger person, but that was definitely not the case. I found myself inspired by Anne’s character as well as that of an older female artist she meets at an artists’ workshop that she enrolls in to reclaim her dream of being an artist. In that sense, reading this book was also an educational experience for me because it challenged my assumptions about what it is to be an older woman in our society—that no matter how old you are, you can still be a vibrant, active participant in life.

My only criticism of the book is that one scene involving dialogue between Anne’s daughter and a friend in a coffee shop stood out as somewhat superfluous and unnecessary to the story line. Other than that, I found The Love Ceiling to be an excellent read. The book made me realize that sometimes it may take a lifetime to confront the demons of our past, but if life is a journey, it’s not how long it takes you to reach these epiphanies, but what you learn along with way.

Written by: Gita Tewari, June 28th 2010

I agree that it's about time that books and cinema reflect the boomer perspective. I checked out your blog and found it interesting and informative.

As a woman the same age of the protagonist in the book and a psychotherapist who blogs about the Sandwich Generation, I was intrigued by your review.

As the Baby Boomers come of a 'certain age' there seems to be a budding interest in our cohort at the cinema and in books. Well, it's about time!

Thanks for your kind words about the review and for inviting me to participate in this book tour. I agree that it's all relative when it comes to ageism :)

Wow, great review, Gita! "Painting with words," I love that. I know I've been guilty of ageism when reading in the past. I'm not sure why we make assumptions like that, but I bet that'll change as we get older (we'll probably think young people we read about couldn't possibly be THAT mature or interesting, LOL).

Thanks so much for being on the tour for The Love Ceiling!