An Object of Beauty

A Novel
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
3.9 out of 5 stars (1,007 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about An Object of Beauty

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • 12-07-10

Gifted writer, characters and context feel true

I am really enjoying this book so far. Steve Martin is such an intelligent observer of human nature and human behavior, and he's a very good writer. It's hard to believe that a man can write women characters so convincingly, but as was the case with his last book, he manages to capture something elemental and true to female behavior, dress, ways of thinking. I'm not saying all women are like the main character in this novel (thank goodness!) but the main character rings true to me as a woman, as was the case with his last novel's female protagonist. He's a great observer of women's mannerisms and styles. I live in NY, and though I am not a scholar or collector of fine art, it seems to me he captures the NY art and gallery/auction scene as it was during this time period. It's a great, well-observed and well-described glimpse into a world that few of us have the money, time or life experience to enter and I'm finding the story line so far compelling, entertaining and suspenseful even if I wouldn't want to be friends with the main character. She has a certain magnetism and the suspense that carries the story along is equal parts what will she do next and what will happen to her. Clearly Steve Martin knows this world of NYC art, fashion, neighborhoods, personalities from the inside and it's a kind of a buzz hearing him describe things so aptly. I recommend it if you find these things interesting, or if you want to see the surprising literary range of a good actor and comedian.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Great Gatsby was first person too

Let me just say, to get it out of the way, that Campbell Scott's voice is sweetness sparked with thrill. I love his recordings with perfect impurity, and would like (please) many many more.

I loved the book too.

It expertly uses a forgettable narrator (lifted from Fitzgerald, I reckon) to expose one of our world's great divisions: the morally upright versus the charmingly corrupt. Pick your side, because you won't like being stuck in the middle. Poor guy. The last line of this novel broke my heart, and made me start listening all over again.

I'm familiar with New York, love Art Museums, took art history classes in school, and don't miss Steve's wilder crazier side. That's my bias.




18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Well-written story read by a great narrator

An Object of Beauty is a really appealing book for a number of reasons:
Campbell Scott is a masterful narrator. He has a great range of voices at his disposal, and uses them very appropriately.
The story itself is well-written, with interesting characters.
Steve Martin's knowledge of the art world is thorough. He is able to weave real and fictitious artists through the narrative in a way that feels fluid, never forced.

This book is a really great listen, and I would recommend it for anyone who's a fan of good fiction, the art world or a character-driven book.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

An Object of Beauty

Steve Martin's an excellent writer, with a meticulous eye for detail and nuance. And his own brand of wit and humor had me laughing out loud several times.

The story is rather shallow, though, with an endless supply of characters running here and there, buying and selling "objects of beauty" and shmoozing in the service of same. Characters appear and disappear without warning or context, and they seem to have nothing to think about except the current prices for art in the New York galleries, and of course the sexual escapades that go along with all the trafficking. Said trafficking takes place much of the time in restaurants, of which there is ample description as well.

It appears that Steve either has a very thorough knowledge of art history, or he has researched the vast subject extensively.

I'm not a fan of books that have a lot of conversation, and this book is overloaded - have to say I did not finish. Just became too tired of all the vanities and trivial chit chat. But it's all entertaining if you like that sort of thing.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Total Satisfaction

Steve Martin is a magical writer, who knew? If you love art, NYC, youthful attitudes and travel, you will love this book.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Nice Prose, Short on story

Very nice descriptive character development, however, after waiting for the protagonist to get into serious trouble, Steve pulls his punches. I enjoyed the listen since it was leading to the conclusion based on external forces not the main character's efforts.. All the risks of the protagonist, made her a success until the environment changed her situation.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Terrible.

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Art World Savvy; Fun Story

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Ok

I really enjoyed Shop Girl and although An Object of Beauty was entertaining I didn't like it half as much. It wasn't my favorite audio book.

9 people found this helpful