Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book 68: The Art Forger

Claire is a pariah in the art world.  Though she continues to paint and work on her own art, she cannot get a show, and struggles to sell her work.  As a result, she also works for a website that sells quality reproductions of paintings by the masters, her particular specialty being Degas.  At the beginning of the novel, Claire receives a visit from Aiden, a gallery owner that she knew before she became an outcast, and he makes a proposition to her: he has somehow gotten a hold of a Degas painting that was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and wants her to make a reproduction of it.  His arguments, the money and the promise of her own work being shown at his gallery are all too tempting to resist, and Claire agrees to copy this missing masterpiece.
The novel slowly reveals more of Claire's backstory as the novel progresses, eventually explaining exactly what caused Claire's fall from grace.  At the beginning, all the reader knows is that it somehow involves her ex-lover and former mentor/teacher.  As Claire studies the Degas painting, preparing herself to make the copy, she slowly begins to doubt whether it is in fact an original.  There is no doubt that this is the painting that hung in the gallery but she begins to believe that the original went missing long before that, leading her on a quest to find the original.
Shapiro also includes fictional letters home that Isabella Gardner wrote during her trips to Paris.  Since only the readers have this information, it is easy to start coming to conclusions regarding the original painting before Claire gets to them.  While the mystery is interesting, what makes this novel really stand out from any other thriller is all the detail and information about the art world and forgeries.  Some of the characters actions and reactions seem a bit rushed and unrealistic at times, but I was definitely hooked, and thought this was a rather well-done and slightly informational page turner.  Given the time of year, this would be the perfect read for the beach or a flight, especially if somone wants something light but with a bit of educational value.

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