On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art, today worth over $500 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there's more to this crime than meets the eye.
Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting - a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum - in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire's studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.
©2012 Barbara Shapiro (P)2012 HighBridge Company
"A clever, twisty novel about art, authenticity, love, and betrayal. B. A. Shapiro knows about Degas, and she knows about art theft and forgery, and she also knows how to tell a gripping story." (Tom Perrotta)
The story line is excellent and original - but I mostly napped or fast-forwarded through the Part 1, and the action doesn't really start until Part 2. I usually yawn through interludes where old correspondence is read when such letter-reading interludes are employed merely to add texture. In this case, I became tired of listening to Ms. Gardner's shopping escapades and travels with brand name artists and art critics and I didn't think it mattered to hear about the details of Degas life as seen by someone who knew him. Other readers might love this, so it's just one of my proclivities, or negativities, as the case may be.
There are some sexual diversions, which are brief and succinct, thankfully, because this is not chic-fic, but there are also some passages which are outright pollyanna-ish - there could have been a better way to expand on the moments that the protagonist is finally becoming successful, instead of having her sound like Dorothy clicking her heels, "not in Kansas" any more.
I also think that including sex and romance with the "deal with the devil" is predictable and overdone, but perhaps that helps sell books and to fund the ongoing flow of audiobooks for our consumption and enjoyment, who can figure, except editors and marketing gurus.
The writer masters the true-crime parts of the story effectively, mixing the facts of the actual art heist smoothly with fictional inventions and story arc.
I generally like Xe Sands as a narrator - but for this book I thought she sounded too girlish and neither ironic nor "noir" enough for this story. Her voice occasionally gives an innocence, sensuality and enthusiasm which I didn't think worked with the plot line.
I am giving this a 4 instead of a 5 because of the disconnect between story and reader. I wish I could give it a 4.5, because said disconnect is not a huge factor and only occasionally affected my listening groove.
The story was well written and the characters were well developed.
I would highly recommend this book.
Yes, for anyone who wants a good thriller mystery
In a class by its self.
I truly loved her delivery.
Once i started this book I couldn't stop until it was finished. I went back a forth between Audio and kindle the whole time. I look forward to the next one of her novels that make it to Audible.
The story and characters were compelling. The narration was perfect. I really lost myself listening to this one. I had to stay up late to find out what happened next. I wish I could find more by this author now!
The story might be okay, though the protagonist, Claire, comes across as enormously whiny and self-centered, I might have listened to it till the end, had the narrator not be so awful. She does all the voices in the same snooty-sounding, bored drone, as if she is stoned or half asleep. I don't like to criticize, but it just is not a voice I personally found very pleasant. I just couldn't care about the characters because they were so bland and self-obsessed, it seemed to me.Maybe I would have liked the print version better, because the premise of the story has a lot of potential, but in the audiobook, I was very disappointed.
The various dimensions of the story and the many pieces of the puzzle from different time periods.
The resolution to the puzzle and the surprise of the relationship twister in the end.
She has a great command of the various languages and characters.
No, but it held my attention and kept me wanting more in the end.
This story wasn't bad but the female character was a pain in the butt. Better as a book than an audiobook because then you could skip her useless whining ways.
The art bits were good, anything where we didn't have to deal with the female character was fine.
I didn't mind the narration, it was what was being narrated that was the issue.
All the hysterics
A good story spoilt by a totally impossible character. I won't be buying another book by this author.
The story of an artist's passion and the history of the art world were entertaining and engaging. Sadly, there really wasn't enough character development for me to care all that much about what happened to the people in the story. The two leads don't seem to have much in common and Claire comes across as emotionally stunted. The slow, breathy, whiney narration does NOT help with this.
Great performance of an intriguing story about so many aspects of the art world. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
The story was well written and interesting and concerned something I knew little about. I found the complexity of forging works of art incredibly compelling - and it could have been dull. There were nice twists and turns in the plot which kept me reading and listening since I had both the e-book and the audio book. What I did not like was that the story was told in present tense. This was much more apparent and awkward sounding when listening than when reading print. Everything that happened was actually in the past and the protagonist (Claire) was doing the recounting. If someone else, the author, say or a fictional narrator, were telling the story, it could be told effectively in present tense, but not in 1st person and present tense about things that have already happened.
Have to say Claire. She was a person "in-the-making" - young and finding her way in the world. She was honest with herself and not afraid to show her youthful naïveté.
In general, the narration was OK. However, the men all sounded alike and had a croaky, gravelly voice. They sounded like old men and I think they were supposed to be fairly young. This is one of my recurrent narration complaints - men trying to sound like women and women trying to sound like men Sometimes more than one narrator is called for.
It would make a great movie!....so yes. I'd love to see the art-work or copies of it (pun intended) that was being spoken about. Also like to see the process of forging or copying art. The men would be played by male actors, so they'd sound like men. And be young and good-looking, too.
I'd give this 3 1/2 stars if possible..it's not quite 4 IMO. All in all, an enjoyable read.
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