Spending by Mary Gordon was a gift to me from a friend who mailed it to me because she thought I would relate to the characters and story. She was right. The female protagonist is a middle-aged, divorced, moderately successful New York painter. The plot is a bit of an adult fairy tale in that what happens seems unlikely but how delightful for a little while to imagine it could. The book is well written and sweeps you away into an interesting lifestyle.
One of my favorite aspects of the story was that the heroine had an idea for repainting classic religious works of Christ by updating them to say something for our time. That, of course, offended fundamentalist Christians, but it led to her traveling to where the works would be, studying them, and reinterpreting them to suit her theme. It led me to look up the original paintings when they weren't ones with which I was familiar.
The woman who wrote this book understood artists and very nicely portrayed a creative life. It is a sensual read with the art, lifestyle, food, and eroticism as it starts with the heroine finding a lover (or rather he finds her) who believes so strongly in her talent that he offers to become her muse, providing her a place to work and money to allow her paint full-time-- that is when they are not making love or she isn't wrestling with her relationship with her grown daughter.
The following gives you a bit of a feeling for the writing--
"I began sketching him. That sounds like a simple sentence but the two pronouns, I and him, were actually very complicated when they were connected to my sketching. I was his lover, someone who knew something of his life that could be called his biography-- but I was looking at him as merely a series of planes, a series of angles, a series of shapes whose relation to one another I was trying to make manifest. He was a form that I would try to reproduce.
"But that's not really true either. I'd wanted the image of him because his form was saturated in desire. I wasn't Matisse in his white pharmacist's coat."