Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Art Forger

After reading a disappointing book club selection last month, I’ve been a bit gun-shy about choosing books outside of the easy/pop genre.  I’ve stuck to stuff I knew I would like, including a Susanna Kearsley novel, the latest in the Hangman’s Daughter series, a Nora Roberts trilogy… you get the idea.  No heavy hitters there.  One of the fun things about putting things on hold at the library, though, is that you never know when it’s going to pop up.  I put books on hold months ago and then all of the sudden I have an email to download an available e-book or pick up a book at the library and whoosh!  Suddenly, I’m reading literary fiction again.


So I just finished The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro and I liked it.  It wasn’t a revelation of a novel or anything, but I enjoyed it, and by the final third, I was so engrossed that I stayed up late to finish it.  The story follows an artist who has a past indiscretion in the art world and is now persona non grata among curators, galleries, critics, and other artists.  She accepts a job to copy a famous Degas painting knowing full well that the painting had been stolen, and then gets herself caught up in the unraveling of the forgery, has to make some moral judgments, and gets to play detective a bit.  There are some glimpses into the origin of the painting and the subsequent mystery that don’t work as well as they should, namely a series of letters from Isabella Stewart Gardner to her niece (oh, yeah!  This is based on an actual heist, which is fun) that the characters in the novel never get to see, but that are necessary to the plot, and there are some characters that aren’t as well-developed as they should be.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the main character and how normal she seemed.  I also liked her troubles and stumbles, even if they were totally unnecessary to the plot, like her teaching gig at a juvenile detention center.


I also liked that everything doesn’t work out at the end with a giant happy ending, it’s-all-perfect-and-the-future-is-rosy sort of wrap-up.  Maybe this means I’ve been reading too much happy-ending pop fiction these days.


I just started Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, so I guess I’m back into reading heftier titles these days.  Toss any suggestions you have my way.

1 comment:

Roger Holeman said...

There is a series of books by Cara Black that take place en Paris. No socially redeeming qualities whatsoever - just mystery!