While the book was largely devoted to Mary and Degas, there were multiple chapters that followed other artists and, honestly, I wound up getting many of them confused. Was it Édouard who was married to Suzanne yet in love with Berthe or was it his brother Eugène? Who was it again that had been rejected by the Salon this year? The year before? I got lost in the small details that made up I Always Loved You and the confusion made it difficult to become fully invested in the story.
I Always Loved You follows Mary Cassatt from her early days as a young American painter in Paris to old age. Along the way we're introduced to numerous artists - Renoir, Monet, both Manet brothers - nearly all of whom have banded together to hold their own exhibitions after having paintings rejected by the famed Paris Salon. After an introduction to Degas (she had long admired his work and he had admired hers), she finds herself tangled in this misfit group. Reading about these painters was like watching a soap opera. Though many were married, their affections lay elsewhere and even the paternity of a child was called into question (though never in public of course!). With Mary spending more and more time with Degas rumors run rampant throughout Paris and neither really does anything to stop it.
I didn't feel invalidated when the voice told me "you're a girl." For some reason, I really wanted to obey the voice. I really wanted it to love me. The more demanding it became the more I wanted to please it. I actually felt comforted when it said "beg for me", or "I always loved you". That's weird, because in real life I'm rather headstrong.