Coulson, Christine

ONE WOMAN SHOW

ABOUT THE BOOK

A sly and stylish novel—remarkably told through museum wall labels—about a twentieth-century woman who transforms from a precious object into an unforgettable protagonist.
Author Christine Coulson spent twenty-five years writing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her final project was to write wall labels for the museum’s new British Galleries. During that time, she dreamt of using The Met’s strict label format to describe people as intricate works of art. The result is this bullet of a novel that imagines a privileged twentieth-century woman as an artifact—an object prized, collected, and critiqued.

One Woman Show revolves around the life of Kitty Whitaker as she is defined by her potential for display and moved from collection to collection through multiple marriages. Coulson precisely distills each stage of this sprawling life, every brief snapshot in time a wry reflection on womanhood, ownership, value, and power.

Described with poignancy and humor over the course of a century, Kitty emerges as an eccentric heroine who disrupts her porcelain life with both major force and minor transgressions. As human foibles propel each delicately crafted text, Coulson’s playful reversal on our interaction with art ultimately questions who really gets to tell our stories.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine Coulson spent 25 years writing for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and left the museum as Senior Writer in 2019. She started at The Met in 1991 as a summer intern in the European Paintings Department and returned to start her first job there after graduate school in 1994. During her tenure, she rose through the ranks of the museum, working in the Development Office, the Director’s Office, and the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.
In 2017, The Met gave Coulson a yearlong sabbatical to write Metropolitan Stories, her bestselling novel about the museum, after she published this personal essay in The New York Times. During the pandemic, she also published this Lit Hub essay about The Met during lockdown.

Her new novel, One Woman Show, will be released in the US and UK on October 17, 2023.

Coulson is also working on forthcoming collaborations with artist Ruan Hoffman and architect Elizabeth Roberts.