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 enjoyed the book very much, however was dismayed to discover upon finding a hardcopy at a friends home that there were pictures that weren't available for audio users.
It may be that one needs to be more educated in the art business to fully appreciate the nuances, but the story and characters are not deeply enough developed for me. However, if you are looking for a quick listen and love Manhattan it holds its own!
One third through this book I almost decided I didn't want to push any further. I didn't like Lacey and I wasn't sure where it was going. So glad I persisted as it is a wonderful story with the perfect mixture of real events and fictional ones. An intriguing commentary on the art world.
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.
I rank it in the upper third of all books I've listened to.
Lacey. Because she was a manipulative scoundrel. Interesting character.
There was not.
I enjoy Steve Martins books, he is a talented writer.
If you are expecting an exciting tale about a likable protagonists' triumph in the challenging art world amidst lush descriptions of New York City, this book will probably disappoint you. That is the kind of book I was imagining when I read the publisher's description, but that's not really the kind of book An Object of Beauty turned out to be. It is more of a book about a morally ambiguous, conniving, and somewhat unfeeling woman's various highs and lows throughout a career in the art world. Found in the book are detailed descriptions of various works of art, museums, and art world business dealings which undoubtedly showcase Steve Martin's knowledge, but all of these details are more informational and instructive in nature; they don't quite fit in with the character-study aspect that the novel otherwise has.
The narration by Campbell Scott is very good and fits the feel of the book very well. The narrator character in the novel, Nick, is a bit flat and is really only a vessel through which to tell Lacey's story. Campbell Scott is the perfect choice, because like Nick, his performance is droll and dry, and very seemingly removed from the action at hand.
Overall, this book was good and was not a waste of my time, but it did not meet my expectations.
This book is not for everyone. Do not read this book because you love Steve Martin. He's not in the book. His comedy is not in the book. No character in the book is based on him. The characters are compelling and the story is a fascinating, nicely-paced tribute to NYC folklore, with just enough truth to make it believable. If you are a genuine Art snob, you may find the name dropping and background information tedious -- but if you are a curious person who has either lived in New York or likes (maybe not loves) Art, you will enjoy this book. I put off reading this book for a long time - somewhat deterred by the reviews - but I am sorry I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am continually impressed by the wide range of Steve Martin's talents.
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