Last night I was pleased to attend a reading by Ellis Avery, author of The Teahouse Fire and the recently released The Last Nude, at my favorite independent bookstore, Talking Leaves in Buffalo, NY.
Although only a small group of people turned up for the reading (myself, two Canisius professors and two UB professors), it was a very enjoyable and intimate event. Avery, wearing a brown dress over jeans and a lilac scarf draped over her slim shoulders, began her talk with an introduction to her book.
Set in 1927 Paris, The Last Nude is inspired by Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka’s famous work, “Beautiful Rafaela,” which Avery was first exposed to in London while she was working on her first novel, The Teahouse Fire. She said she was completely struck by the painting and the information she read on the placard next to it. She was intrigued to learn the piece is one of many paintings of de Lempicka’s lover and surprised that two women would have had this type of relationship during the time period. She knew she wanted her next novel to explore this relationship.