So the other morning on NPR, I heard this story about Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, and their relationship.
Okay, about all I know of Degas are his ballet paintings, and I know even less about Cassatt (though guess whose work randomly showed up on my Tumblr today?), but now I know that they knew one another and influenced each other’s work. The part of the story above that caught my attention, though, was how there’s a new novel out about the two of them and their relationship, and the novel has them romantically involved–even though there’s no historical evidence to prove they ever were.
Which, whatever, historical fiction and you write what you write–just because there’s no historical record of Degas and Cassatt kissing doesn’t mean an author can’t or shouldn’t write that. But it got me thinking, and what I thought was, where’s the book about the two artists who get each other, who influence each other’s work, and who don’t fall in love or have sex?
I mean, I love my husband. But if you asked me (and my husband, actually) who the person is who just gets me, without my having to explain it, it’s Jason. There’s a reason we’re evil twins. And we do have this artistic relationship going on along with the friendship, and we have a ridiculous amount of shorthand, but we’ve both said that even if our orientations were compatible, we probably would not get together. We’re too high maintenance in too many of the same ways.
So where are those relationships in books? Sure, you can totally write Degas and Cassatt having a romantic relationship, but why not write it the other way? And I ask this partly because I’m thinking there’s a lack, but also because, you know, if they’re out there I’d like to know about them.