Fans of Steve Martin might at first be disappointed when they note that the talented actor, writer, and musician doesn’t narrate his latest work himself. But once they hear Campbell Scott’s voice, their minor distress will be assuaged. Whether by nature or by practice, Scott’s voice is a near replica of Martin’s a baritone with a slightly nasal quality that rarely rises or falls in pitch, but still inexplicably conveys incredible depths of emotion.
An Object of Beauty thoroughly entrenches readers in the subculture of the Manhattan art world by following Lacey Yeager, a young, morally ambiguous art dealer who will do anything to make her mark and make her millions in the fine art business. Narrator Daniel Franks is an aspiring art writer and friend and witness to Lacey’s life and accidental co-conspirator to a misdeed that could ruin both their careers. Yet, like most people in Lacey’s life, Franks is drawn into her web willingly, due to her uncanny ability to beguile men, from wealthy art collectors to FBI agents a skill that aids her speedy ascension in her career.
Thanks to Scott’s pitch-perfect performance, Martin’s presence is felt and not missed throughout the reading. The subtle humor is sharp and the plot is driven forward by the desire to uncover where the boundaries of Lacey’s integrity lie if there are any. Part mystery, part intriguing character study, Martin’s latest creates a dilemma for the listener you don’t like the protagonist, yet you can’t help but want to know more about her and the sometimes seedy world in which she dwells. Colleen Oakley
Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the New York art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights - and, at times, the dark lows - of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.
©2010 Steve Martin (P)2010 Hachette
"Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"[A] clever, convincingly detailed depiction of NYC’s art scene." (Booklist)
I can't believe I made it through this one. Martin presents the recent history of the art world in a 101 manner, a lot of facts given over in an almost didactic tone. I found the lead female character so ridiculously flat and unbelievable. She is a sexual fantasy of a character, and absolutely devoid of any real complexity. All of the characters were flat and cartoonish. ! found myself annoyed to the point of grunting out loud to some of the worst passages. I don't think I'll be able to try another book by martin.
Attorney & Artist
As an artist and museum volunteer acquainted with the New York based art world, I had fun listening to this book. Steve Martin clearly knows art and has been a good sport on the round of interviews introducing his book. I loved that he made mention of the legendary art book dealer and expert, Peter Krauss, a really cool guy. It's just delightful to follow the creative exploits of this author, already high on my list for his comedic, movie and banjo! accomplishments.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
This book was ok. I read it because of an interest in art. It's an art book in passing, but I found more to interest an artist in Martin's "Born Standing Up," which concerns the making an refining of an artist's voice.
This book was, I'm not sure, a novel about a woman who sold stuff, schmoozed and conned people. Art was incidental to the story, romance was almost a focus, there was almost a mystery, there was not quite a chase. I don't know what to say about it. It was ok.
I wanted to like the book, and was interested in learning about the NY art scene. But although I listened to more than half, finally gave up. I did not care about any of the characters or the art, and found the narrator (who sounds very similar to Martin) to be equally boring.
There is almost no story. Protagonist is an unpleasant and cliched beautiful social climbing manipulator. As for plot, she does something that's not all that bad, eventually gets found out, and it proves to be no big deal. More than anything else its about art collecting. If you have always wanted to understand and get an inside look into the world in which a painting could sell for hundreds of thousands one year and then several millions the next, then this is the book for you. (spoiler alert - people want things more if they believe other people want it)
There is a scene early in the story where an outsider to the art world asks the main character to explain how and why the super rich buy and sell art at such ridiculous prices. She explains it and he is mildly interested. That sums up exactly how I felt about this book, mildly interested.
Admittedly I did not get very far in this book. I listened to "Shop Girl" all the way through, just waiting for the moment the heroine would develop into a woman of interest and depth but I was sorely disappointed. I just couldn't bare hearing another of Steve's books start out so similarly shallow.
Either he really doesn't understand women, or he surrounds himself with pretty women devoid of depth. Or maybe it's both.
Campbell Scott has the perfect voice for this story set in New York's art world. I could listen again just to hear his voice!
This has the same pace as Party Girl.
I loved the ending, it wraps up the story nicely and leaves you a little melancholy.
Steve Martin always has lines that you want to bookmark and find a way to use in casual conversation...not that I can pull it off.
Steve martin establishes himself with this book as a master of another trade. Beautifully written,and spoken, book about the art world and it's inhabitants where the primary motif seems to be the meaning of beauty itself.
A plot line. It was mainly a description of the art auction business, with underdeveloped characters who weren't sympathetic. Maybe it got better, but I gave up about a quarter of the way through.
Seemed to be mainly two characters, and I could have done without both of them.
This book surprised me and I really loved it. It has a unique voice and I was completely enthralled by the story. Campbell Scott's voice was eerily similar to Steve Martin, so I think he was the perfect choice. I highly recommended this book.
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