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The Madhouse Nudes

When the painter John Ordway moves from New York to a small Iowa town and hires two local women as models, his work and life deepen and complicate in unforeseen ways, probing the question: What does it mean for a man to see a woman truly?

Subtly conceived and artfully executed, The Madhouse Nudes is part love story, part mystery—a brave exploration of guilt and innocence.

John Ordway is an artist working in the tradition of the female nude. In New York City that preoccupation merely aroused the ire of feminist art critics, but now that he and his girlfriend, Jamie, a potter and weaver, have retreated to tiny Delphi, Iowa, he finds himself the object of a more pointed suspicion.

Then Jamie leaves him, and one of his local models is attacked. Surrounded by judgment and no longer able to view his work with detachment, he is forced to question the impulses that drive him to it. As events approach their crisis, he must answer questions of urgent personal importance: What is the fate of a body in the world? And what does it mean for a man to see a woman truly?

Art collides with life, painfully and revealingly, in this evocative first novel, which brings a poet’s sensibility to the charged question of women’s bodies and men’s desires.

The Madhouse Nudes is a gripping, moving story, enhanced by all the virtues of first-rate fiction.

– George Garrett

Critical Praise

The Madhouse Nudes is a delight... This is the kind of book that makes you want to buttonhole someone and say, ‘Read this.'

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

[A] book about bodies... in all stages of imperfection and transitory radiance . . . Stunning... [A] profound psychological study, naked and finally sane.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The prose is beautifully wrought... [A]s a sensitive and even suspenseful mystery with a love story attached, it succeeds marvelously... And the pace keeps the reader moving steadily from start to finish.

San Antonio Express-News

The Madhouse Nudes is [a] gripping, emotional and often painful novel written by a masterful storyteller.

The Roanoke Times

The Madhouse Nudes is a totally engaging and involving novel... Robert Schultz knows how to tell a story.

In Pittsburgh Newsweekly

[R]aise[s] fundamental questions about the nature and ‘business' of art and its relation to the self and others, especially those we love and live among.

The Hudson Review

Strong characters rendered in artful pages.

Kirkus Reviews

An odyssey into the life of a working artist.

The Chattanooga Times

Highly recommended.

Library Journal

Robert a gifted creator of true-to-life images.

The Des Moines Register

The Madhouse Nudes is a gripping, moving story, enhanced by all the virtues of first-rate fiction. It has a credible and sympathetic central character in the gifted artist, John Ordway, and a fully dimensional cast of well-realized characters. There is a strong, at times lyrical sense of place and a sensitive accounting of our troubled times. And above all it has style, a clean, clear prose that is a pleasure to read. I recommend Robert Schultz's The Madhouse Nudes to all readers looking for storytelling at its finest.

– George Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning author