Published by: Algonquin Books
Published on: October 23, 2012
Page Count: 368
My Reading Format: ARC I received at Algonquin Book’s BEA booth
She Reads January Book Club Selection: I am reviewing The Art Forger today as part of the She Reads. Be sure to check out the She Reads site for more information about the book, B.A. Shapiro, giveaways, and reviews from other bloggers participating in the She Reads Blog Network.
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Note on the Audiobook: Although I did not read this book in audio, I want to give a shout out to Highbridge Audio and narrator Xe Sands. If audio is your format, check out the audio sample on the Highbridge Audio site. Also, Xe Sands and I discussed The Art Forger in conjunction with the book’s release. This is a little more “spoilery” than my review (which contains no spoilers at all), but it talks in more depth about my thoughts and feelings about this book. We both found this book inspirational.
Claire Roth is a Boston artist on the margins. Early in her career, in an attempt to help her lover recapture his artistic vision, she created a painting for him, allowing him to present it as his own. The secret did not last and in the end it cost Claire her reputation. Years later, she earns a living painting reproductions of master works. While her knack for picking up on the techniques used by famous artists before her helps her pay the rent, she’s never given up on her dream of being able to showcase her own work. When Aiden Markel, a well reputed Boston gallery owner, requests to stop by her studio to see her work, she can’t help but be excited. Perhaps enough time has gone by that she and the local art community can move beyond the past. Aiden does not, however, come by simply to view her current work. He comes with an irresistible offer that will challenge Claire’s ethics and jeopardize her future.
From the very first page, The Art Forger captivated me with the story, the characters, and the painting. I really like Claire for all of her faults and I enjoyed working with her through her reproductions and her painting. I am not knowledgeable about the art world. I enjoyed the few art classes I took in college and have no trouble losing track of time in a museum. Other than that, it’s not something I spend much time contemplating. Still, I was sitting next to Claire with every brush stroke. Shapiro’s writing and knowledge blended together seamlessly Reading this book felt very much like the time I saw Picassos up close at a museum in Berlin. It came alive for me. I left scenes discussing Claire’s work where I wished I could Google Claire Roth and see those paintings. I would have felt even more so if I had known that the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is real and did in fact suffer an unsolved art heist.
B.A. Shapiro took the details of an actual art theft and turned it into a first class work of fiction. What I appreciated the most about The Art Forger was the moral and ethical dilemmas it posed to Claire, Aiden, and the reader. It added emotional heft to an already engrossing novel, making the ending bitter sweet. The Art Forger was one of my favorite reads of 2012. I vividly remember the story and know exactly where I was when I read significant scenes. Thinking about this book brings the smell of autumn back into the air. If you haven’t picked it up already, do so. You’ll get lost in the art and intrigue of Boston and may not come back up from air until you’ve finished the very last page.