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 Art Forger tells the story of the recovery of a painting (perhaps) from the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. The main character - the art forger - is well drawn. Shapiro did a good job creating a character who is nice, though a bit simpering, but is able to tamp down her morals for money. Usually characters who do this are drawn to be sinister so we do not like them. This was a pretty realistic depiction of the choices perfectly nice people make when weighing options. The story itself I found to be just average. An interesting companion is the non-fiction book Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures which is written by the FBI agent who worked on the Gardner Heist.
An overall entertaining story, that was rich with details about the art world and processes of oil painting. I knew nothing about this subject prior to reading the book, so I can't say if it's accurate, but the level of detail makes me think that it is. I learned something. The story seems a bit contrived at the end, but kept me listening!
Shapiro should stick to non-fiction. An account of a criminal who at least knows he/she is a criminal would be a refreshing change.
Sands probably did the best she could, given that she was tasked with being the voice of one of the most self-involved, morally vacuous women it has been my displeasure to endure.
Not at all, and I've been reading about some of the famous forgers mentioned in the book.
Possibly, although I thought her pronunciation of the various non-English names was a bit too precious. Remids me of that scene when Diane Keaton is talking to Woody Allen about Van Gogh, and it sounds like she has a bad case of phlegm.
It could have been so much better if the characters had not been some of the most narcissistic and annoying that I have ever had the misfortune to hear.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
I confess, I did not not like this book. I wanted to like it but never got there. This has a lot to do with the awful narration. Every male character sounds like an airline pilot on sleeping pills. The victim, rather, central character seems a wreck of a person who I just couldn't find any empathy for.
The story had potential but the past and present stories only fit together by a thread of irony. The "three years ago" stuff really wasn't a good vehicle to support or move the plot---it was ironic but not necessary. Think about it.
Stripping out the whole Issac thing would have cut this down to a decent read.
No, I barely could stay interested and was sorry at the end that our hero wasn't hauled off to prison for making me endure this story.
I wouldn't recommend it. But you might like it. It ain't literature folks. Taste in stories vary. You may like it. Many do.
I couldn't keep listening! I loved the art forgery theme, but the character interactions and Claire's (the main character) development is terrible. The performance portrays the men as haughty and the women as whiny. The dependent patriarchal power relationships diminish Claire's obvious power (skill/ideas of art) sending her adrift as a hopeless naive (which is so so maddening!) Just couldn't keep going...
Even though I have always wanted to take an Art Appreciation course, I didn't expect to really like this book. But my sister recommended it highly. Well, I was hooked!! Maybe not right away, but it did happen. I learned much about art and the art world. That was crucial to the story. Yes the ending was slightly predictable but was still more than wonderful!! This was one of those books that I truly did not want to end.
Parts in the end dragged on slightly (the never ending drama between Claire and Aiden, pursuit by law enforcement authorities) but it was worth it overall.
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