In 1940, art-world icon Georgia O’Keeffe bought a house in a mountain-rimmed New Mexico desert, planning to live there for six months every year. To manage her remote household while she paints, O’Keeffe invited Maria Chabot–a young and naïve would-be writer–to join her.
Their tempestuous relationship endured throughout the chaotic years of WW2; the death of Georgia’s domineering, philandering husband (famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz); and Maria’s design and building of a remarkable adobe house and studio for the artist in the native village of Abiquiu—a generous gift from an exceptional friend.
An evocative story that explores the dimensions of friendship and the debts we incur to those who make our lives easier, Someone Always Nearby is based on research into a massive collection of over 700 letters, documents, media reports, and historical accounts. Readers will be fascinated by this intimate, revealing portrait of the artist’s daily life during her first decade at her New Mexico ranch–a mysterious, enigmatic O’Keeffe that only one woman, Maria Chabot, ever fully knew.
Resources Coming for Someone Always Nearby
- A Reader’s Guide. The stories behind the story. Research, sources and hyperlinked resources, curated extras, author commentary, questions and discussion topics for your book group. Susan says: “I wanted to make the research visible, so readers can see where the fiction came from and how it was integrated into and shaped the story. In other words, I wanted to show my work and invite you to think about what other stories the sources might tell.” Free downloadable ebook, available on this website.
- Discussion questions and topics for book groups
- An interview with the author about her research and writing
- Blog posts about the book, by Susan and others
Praise for Someone Always Nearby
“Completely absorbing, the book offers a moving meditation on art, ambition, passion, and friendship, as well as a breathtaking tribute to an unconquerable land.”–BlueInk, starred review (full review here)
“[T]he book captures the main characters’ passion, the beauty of the desert, and Santa Fe’s vibrant, idiosyncratic artistic community in vivid detail. A compelling portrait of the artist, her assistant, and the desert around them.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Albert once again shows her versatility in her latest foray into historical novels about famous women. As always, her characterizations are impressive, as is the pacing of the narrative. A welcome addition to the body of serious research and writing about the eminent twentieth-century painter [O’Keeffe} and the people who made her life’s work possible.”—US Review of Books
“Set against a vivid backdrop, the novel Someone Always Nearby covers the stories of Georgia O’Keeffe and Maria Chabot with a keen sense of historical grounding.”–Foreword Reviews
Praise for the Hidden Women Series
Loving Eleanor: A Novel of Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt
“A vivid fictional interpretation, written from Hick’s perspective as her relationship with ER unfolded and endured. Albert’s novel, which is rooted in the women’s correspondence, is so skillfully told that I found her ‘enhancements’ believable and profoundly moving… Read this book.”—Blanche Weisen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. 1-3
“A beautiful, touching story of the enduring friendship between two intelligent, independent women and the exciting and turbulent eras in which they lived. It is time their story was revealed. Kudos to Albert for telling it.”—Romantic Times (top pick)
“Susan Albert has, with imagination and deep knowledge of the historical record, supplied the missing pieces of the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Here is everything we wish we knew. I couldn’t put it down.”—Leila Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara
The General’s Women: A Novel of Kay Summersby, Dwight Eisenhower, and Mamie
“A mature, gripping emotional drama… The arc of this multifaceted novel follows Ike, Kay, and Mamie through the war and back into civilian life. At every point Albert smoothly incorporates an obviously vast amount of research into a tale of raw emotional conflict that can make for some wonderfully uncomfortable reading.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A historical novel that is sympathetic, satisfying, and heartbreaking. The General’s Women imagines the most of a wartime relationship around which speculation swirled; the effects are irresistible.”—Foreword Reviews (2017 Indies Gold)
A Wilder Rose: A Novel of Rose Wilder Lane and Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Albert does an excellent job of bringing historical figures to life in a credible way; her novel is well paced, its characterizations are strong, and the plot is solidly constructed. Readers begin to understand Lane’s personality and mentality, as well as the things that drive her.”—Publishers Weekly (starred) review
“Albert has written a nuanced, moving and resonant novel about fraught mother-daughter relationships, family obligation and the ways we both inherit and reject the values of our parents… With all of the charm of the Little House series—and the benefit of a sophisticated, adult worldview—Albert’s novel is an absolute pleasure.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A Wilder Rose is a compelling depiction of one of the most significant literary collaborations of the 20th century. That the two people involved were mother and daughter adds to its complexity and human interest.”—Anita Claire Fellman, author of Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture