Alternating between 19th century Europe and present-day New England, the narrative follows the great British painter J. M. W. Turner and his scene of artists, intellectuals, and lovers; and Henry, a middle-aged family man whose otherwise mundane existence is disrupted by the discovery of The Center of the World, Turner’s controversial painting of Helen of Troy that had been thought to be lost forever.
This transcendently beautiful painting was so erotic that it was hidden away and supposedly destroyed … until Henry happens to stumble upon it while vacationing at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Now in possession of an object of unimaginable value, Henry finds himself torn between wanting to sell the work and keeping something of beauty in his life. Returning to the 19th century, the reader follows the creation of the painting and learns more about Turner’s beliefs, technique, manner, and indecorous affairs. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this novel explores the ever-evolving role of art in our lives.