The Painter's Friend
The painter Terry Godden was on the brink of his first success. After a violent
crisis, he finds himself outcast.
In his fifties, and with little money, he retreats to a small island. Arriving in the
winter, the island at first seems a desolate and forgotten place. As the seasons
turn, Terry begins to see the island’s beauty, and discovers that he is only one
of many people who have sought refuge here. These independent outsiders, all
with their own considerable struggles, have made a precarious home.
The island is owned by the business man and art collector Alex Kaplan. His
decision to enforce a rent increase as he seeks to improve his property looks
set to destroy this community that cannot afford to lose the little they have
left. As an artist, Terry believes making the invisible struggles of the island
visible to the world will help – but will his interference save anybody other than
The Painter’s Friend shows the human cost of gentrification for those
dispossessed. The novel also explores the role of art in protest, and asks who
gets to be an artist and what they owe in return. Written with visual lyricism
and driven clarity, Howard Cunnell’s incendiary story about class and resistance
builds to an unforgettable climax. It is an urgent novel for our unjust times.
Paperback, 288 pages