Set in the 1970’s, Utopia, is a deep dive into the male-dominated art scene in California, from the perspective of female artists. The novel, full of the excesses and feminist anger that are associated with the era, begins with the suspicious death of a gifted female artist, Romy, who happens to be a new mom to Flea, and married to an already successful male artist, Billy.
Enter Paz, another young female artist, who quickly takes the place of Romy after her death, becoming mother to Flea and wife to Billy. As Paz moves into what was Romy’s life and tries to put her own filters on it, she is fascinated by the papers and journals that Romy left behind. When postcards with Romy’s drawings and handwriting begin to surface among the female art crowd, raising the spectre that Romy’s is not really gone, Paz is compelled to search out the truth about what happened the night Romy died.
Women are the focus of this novel. Their relationships with each other, their relationships with men, and the nature of the society that we have created. A society that recognizes men differently, often first. Even the strongest, most talented of women can find themselves stepping back for the men, taking on the support roles, allowing the men in their lives, personal and/or professional to step forward.
Heidi Sopinka has given us a novel that requires thoughtful reading and attention, perhaps changing the way we contemplate our society, most certainly offering a challenging perspective.
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