When artist Stephen Bloodsmith creates a series of images inspired by Rubens' trip to London in 1629, he enters a historical world of suspicion and intrigue. But will the manipulations he portrays in art spill over into the real world? When he practises deception inside his own marriage, falling in love with his model even as the romance of his wife Robyn unravels, the corrosive parallels between Bloodsmith's and Rubens' lives - the discovery of intimate secrets, the pain caused by desire and jealousy, the consequences of power and conflict - become hard to live with and impossible to ignore.
Rubens believed he could make peace between the warring powers of Europe. To succeed he must win over Charles I of England, while in Paris 'the Cardinal' is working to frustrate him. Will nation cheat nation as people deceive one another in their personal lives?
At once an intimate portrait of sexual pain in two centuries, and a gripping depiction of international 'deal-making', Pax is a rich, compelling study of desire, power, art - and the necessity of finding peace.
Publisher: Holland House Books
Number of pages: 368
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
'John Harvey, who is fascinated by the creative process involved in the making of art, finds the perfect subject in Rubens' painting "Peace and War" and its themes that intrigue and inspire a contemporary English artist. The result is a many-layered novel, impressively skillful and deeply absorbing.'ANITA DESAI The Plate Shop - `Not merely unusual but also very good - precise, subtle, authoritative and unexpectedly exciting.' HERMIONE LEE, Observer Coup d'Etat - 'What a treat . . . stylish, politically interesting and immensely readable.' NINA BAWDEN, Daily Telegraph 'Tolstoyan . . . a wide-ranging, detailed and sympathetic portrayal of a whole society.' ANTHONY THWAITE, Observer The Legend of Captain Space - 'An impeccably spare prose... It is hard to say precisely why this bare narrative is so memorable and haunting. It is partly because of the assurance with which Harvey chooses the details of life we are given. He gives us things in a few lines -- a human body, a crying child, a heavy lorry, so that we are made to see them simultaneously as the characters see them, and from some huge distance, as perfected instances of some terrible mystery of human existence.' A.S. BYATT, Independent; 'Compelling and enjoyable . . . John Harvey writes with consistent authority. The prose is spare, evocative and effective... In his prose, which is at once stylized, rhythmical and unadorned, Mr Harvey recalls Hemingway; it is a prose which commands attention by its laconic denial of any flourish; a prose which as it were steps modestly back into the limelight.' ALLAN MASSIE, Scotsman The Subject of a Portrait - 'Excellent; I was taken by every page; more, every sentence. It is beautifully and startlingly written, the sudden shifts and turns, impulse and counter-impulse within and from these remarkable people. A very fine love story.' CHRISTOPHER RICKS