Review of “Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens” by Karen Ingalls

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Anyone who knows that the heart has a mind of its own will love this story; those who aren’t privy to that fact need to read it as well. As the saying goes, “true love never runs smooth”, and this beautiful, yet inherently sad, story based on the author’s great-grandmother demonstrates just such a case, that of meeting the right person at the wrong time.

I recently read an article about relationships that noted finding one’s soul mate often followed a karmic relationship which was less that pleasant, i.e., some sort of cosmic payback that needed to be done. Unfortunately, not everyone can walk away from that first encounter, which was the case for Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It’s ironic that the one who accepts the responsibilities of the marriage and stays, even while maintaining a love relationship as well, is often judged more harshly than those who get a divorce.

While this is a fictionalized account from the viewpoint of Saint-Gaudens’s mistress, Davida Johnson Clark, it nonetheless told a touching story backed up by a tremendous amount of research that made it come alive. The author is entirely honest in the back of the book regarding what was fictionalized. As someone who has done genealogy research, I can say that it is very possible to feel as if you know someone from your past, whether it’s through genetic memory or perhaps spiritually channeling the individual. While there is a fair amount of speculation given that documentation as well as various records could not be found, nonetheless the story has the feasibility required to establish its credibility.

Songs and poetry galore have been written expressing the irony of forbidden love. It has always been part of the human condition and probably always will be.  Sundry times and cultures have been more tolerant than others, and I found it ironic that Augustus Saint-Gaudens was half French; had this relationship occurred there, perhaps it would have been less of a scandal than it was in America. Nonetheless, he and Davida were as discreet as possible, though the situation was undoubtedly excruciating for them both, their son growing up with a stigma that affected his entire life.

I knew I’d heard of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but I’d forgotten where, until I came to the part in the book that talked about him designing coins in addition to statues and plaques. Truly he was a great artist of his time, a perfectionist whose work remains today.

Shortly after finishing this book, I was listening to 80s hits via my satellite TV provider and they played “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston. If this story were made into a movie, that would certainly be part of the soundtrack. While it’s easy for the world at large to be judgmental about such things as unfaithfulness, it’s important to recognize the difference between continuous, random illicit affairs versus those that last with one specific individual for decades. In a different place and time, those caught in such a situation would have better options.

Those who have experienced such a situation as well as those who need to understand so as not to judge them so harshly, might also want to read, “If Only There Was Music: The Poetry of Forbidden Love”.

This is not a particularly unique situation as many have discovered personally. Finding your soul mate is seldom a painless experience.

Pick up your copy of Davida on Amazon here.

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3 thoughts on “Review of “Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens” by Karen Ingalls

  1. Pingback: The #RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop | Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

  2. Thank you, Marcha for reading and reviewing my book, Davida. In your review you certainly described the essence of the story, the culture of that era, and the dilemna for two people who were very much in love.
    I wish we had more factual information about Davida, but unfortunately that is not the case. It did allow me to use my creativity and let my great-grandmother “speak” to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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