At turns haunting, moving and comic, Queen of Beauty spans three generations. Shifting between modern-day New Orleans and Auckland, as well as New Zealand of the 1920s and 1960s, it explores the fragility of truth, the elusiveness of the past and the burden it places on the living.
Emma Paupere has just returned to New Zealand from Shanghai, where her training as a painter has made her a copyist of incredible skill. Now, Siaki, her ambitious and manipulative ex-boyfriend, has recruited her as a forger, shutting Emma away in a borrowed apartment on Prices Warf. In a room housing the owner's prize possession - a lost painting by Gauguin - Emma works day and night copying one of the most valuable Goldies in the Auckland Museum.