John Singer Sargent painting: “Zuleika”. The farce — and artifice — of beauty.


Gorgeous, wouldn't you say? It was painted by the 19th Century famous portraitist,  John Singer Sargent. His abstracts were always of friends– usually other artists, such as himself. I wonder if that was because he felt his clients demanded something more meticulous, whereas perhaps these were painted on the fly? His version of toting a camera was to relax with easel, canvas and paints, be it oils or watercolors.

This one is entitled "Zuleika," was completed in 1907, and hangs in the Brooklyn Museum. The name is a genus of moth. It is also Persian in origin, meaning "fair, brilliant, lovely." 

She certainly looks that way, here.

Who was she? The wife of a friend, perhaps? There are a series of poems based on a character by that name. Turns out Sargent was friends with humorist Max Beerbohm, who was working on a contemporary novel by that title, about a woman by that name whose beauty was so great that her merely stepping off a train to visit her grandfather in Oxford caused men to obsess over her — to the point of committing mass suicide.

This Sargent painting and Beerbohm's novel might have been the very first product cross-promotion — multi-platforming in its earliest form. 

More than likely, it was Sargent's way of jibing Beerbohm — payback for the latter's caricutures of the revered painter.

Notice the subject's eyebrows are  just one wave of black paint. Sargent's downward point-of-view is filled with realistic shadowing. The grass is a riot of green, blue and yellow hues which play tricks on the mind: we envision individual blades of grass, and dappled sunlight.

I love that he caught her reading. Is  Proust? Dickens? Baudliere? Possibly The Works of Max Beerbohm.

 Art is fun, and can be funny, too,

— Josie



My latest novel is

The Housewife Assassin's
Vacation to Die For

Now out, in

Pick up the first book in The Housewife Assassin series, for free!


Art from the Heart: Poolside Gossip by Slim Aarons

Poolside GossipSuch irony! This could have easily been the setting for SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, had I had written it 40 years ago.

(And of course, I would have been hailed a child prodigy…make that an embryonic one….Oh, hush, those of you who know my real age…!)

Ran across this photo in the June 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. Of course, I had to look it up immediately! Turns out it is a photograph by Slim Aarons called Poolside Gossip. (But of course!)

Was it posed? From the description, I'm guessing not. The lovely lady on the right is art dealer Joseph Linsk's wife, Nelda. She is talking to a woman with the most delicious name (not to mention perfect mid-century sunning ensemble), Helen Dzo Dzo. Another guest, Lita Baron, approaches, fruity cocktail in hand. (You can click onto the photo to make it larger…)

The lacquered coiffures on the women are priceless. And Lita is is full-chested, her high-heeled legs exquisite under the peek-a-boo lace beach cover-up. Yep, she could pass for a former Playboy Bunnie.

So, what's your guess, will Nelda and Helen change the engrossing topic of their discussion before she gets them? Feel free to comment below.

Note to self: Next book will have more intriguing names!

Let's pretend we know what they're saying,


Secret-Lives400w  Josie's novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is soon to be a dramatic TV series on ABC, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

(Simon & Schuster)

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading."

Jackie Collins, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

Art from the Heart: Kelly Reemtsen’s Breaking and Entering

Breaking and EnteringI consider artist Kelly Reemtsen the queen of illustrative juxtaposition. My God, just look at the sexy back on this woman, the crisp contours of her sun dress, her humongous diamond ring, that tinkling charm bracelet—

And of course, the size of her wire cutters.

She plans on doing some serious damage.

I imagine that's because she's suffered some slight herself. What was it? Did her teenager refuse to get out of his room. Is it time to see what the hubby has
locked up in the tool shed?  Did a neighbor forget to return her silver
tea set?

Whatever the issue, it's payback time.

Even if that means getting her nice white dress smudged.

One way or another, we women always end up doing the dirty work.

In my book, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, one plot thread has to do with break-ins that are occurring all over the supposedly secure gated community where
my heroine lives. But let's face it: no place is totally safe and

Even our hearts can be stolen.

Ms. Reemtsen has a whole series of these desperate housewives. They are total eye candy: bonbons of angst in retro couture. Just my kind of art, because it's
straight from the heart.

In fact, she's exhibiting this week (March 3 – 7, 2010), in New York, at the Armory: Piers 92 and 94, at 12th Avenue and 55th Street, Clinton, to be exact; . Check out the
information here, or below…

Wish I were there,



Art from the Heart: David Hockney’s BEVERLY HILLS HOUSEWIFE

Hockney-Housewife30Although not as much as neighboring Cheviot Hills (which is cozier and off the beaten path, if there is such a thing in L.A.) I enjoy walking through Beverly Hills. Contrary to its name, around the actual town the streets are basically flat, the boulevards wide and to the most part shady, which makes them easy to stroll through. As you'd imagine, the houses are eye candy.

This David Hockney painting, from his "California Dreaming" series, was painted in 1966-67. Though entitled "Beverly Hills Housewife", I pick up a Palm Springs vibe. In the era in which this was painted, the nouveau riche were tearing down many of BH's original stately stucco estates and erecting  post-modern monstrosities in their place, so yes, he aptly captured the mood of the times.

 His model was Los Angeles art patroness Betty Freeman.  I love the zebra-skin Corbusier chaise lounge, the expanse of manicured lawn, and her leisure gown. This housewife is thin and tanned, her hair a platinum halo. She seems to be in her middle years, which would mean she was have been in her youth during the 1930s, when that shade of hair was considered fashionable. Has she allowed herself to age gracefully, or is this a subliminal attempt to holding onto her youth? The wall of glass Hockney has painted around her would suggest the latter.

Impressionistic in style, we can't really see expression on her face, but the angle of her hand forms a hard claw. She has it all, but it's come at an emotional price.

Last year this piece sold on the auction block for $7.9 million

Today many of the older homes have been supersized and glamorized to some degree (just like many of the old stars that still live within their high, thick gated walls).

Another desperate housewife in a gilded cage?


BestSLHW  Josie' s novel,  Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is soon to be a dramatic TV series on ABC, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

(Simon & Schuster; ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores now!

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Bigger Books

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

Art from the Heart: What Does It Mean When Your Wife Wields a Chainsaw?

Task at Hand Ever notice how the end of the holiday season brings out the contrariness in some of us?

Bah humbug, and all that jazz.

Oh, not me. I'm still on a holiday high. In fact, I wish it would never end…

But that's just because I've been procrastinating with a new book proposal.

But enough about me. I about laffed myself silly at this masterpiece (more objectively, it's a “mistresspiece”) by artist Kelly Reemtsen, who shows her work here in San Francisco's Caldwell Snyder Gallery. (FYI: They have a second gallery just north of the city, in the wonderful wine country village of St. Helena.)

It's entitled “Task at Hand.” Hmmmm. Okay, I'll bite. A woman dressed in a chic party frock holds a chainsaw as if it's a Pucci clutch?

Talk about making a statement.

Read into it what you want, but my take on this is that, no matter how we try to hem in our anger, it will show itself eventually.

In her case, fashionably.

But that's just my interpretation. I'd love to hear yours, too.

(If you want to see a larger version, double-click on the photo…)

Periodically I'll turn
this blog turns into an Internet art gallery by uplinking similar pieces by Ms. Reemtsen and other artists, whose works I feel tell a
story similar to what I'll be telling you in my next novel, SECRET

Passive is the new aggressive,





Josie' s Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Bigger Books

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's