#488 ~ The Art Forger

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

Published by: Algonquin Books

Published on: October 23, 2012

Page Count: 368

Genre: Fiction

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.

My Review

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.


  • At 2013.01.07 05:40, Sandy said:

    I’m right there with you. I know next to nothing about art, the process of it, the appreciation of it, but I still find it interesting if presented to me in layman’s terms. And Shapiro did just that. I was sucked in from the first page. I liked Claire…at one point I muttered to myself that if things don’t work out for her I was going to be good and pissed! She deserved success. Also towards the end, I was feeling like I wanted more. Sequel Shapiro?

    • At 2013.01.07 08:29, Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice said:

      Yes—I wished I could have Googled Clarie and glimpsed her Windows paintings, too!

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      • At 2013.01.07 09:51, Jennifer said:

        I was a crazy googler while I read this..I wanted to see every painting discussed 🙂 Great book!

        • At 2013.01.07 09:51, Beth Hoffman said:

          I just started reading this last night and thus far am loving it!

          • At 2013.01.07 10:10, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

            I finished this book Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be attempting to write a review soon.

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            • At 2013.01.07 12:35, Xe Sands said:

              Aw, thank you for the shout out! This really was a wonderful read. And I wanted so badly for Claire’s “Windows” series to be real – desperately wanted to see them!

              • At 2013.01.07 17:27, Jaime Boler said:

                Jennifer, wonderful review! I especially love how you discuss the moral and ethical dilemmas in the story. And it really does remind one of autumn, doesn’t it?!

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                • At 2013.01.07 21:35, Vasilly said:

                  I’ve just downloaded this from my library. After reading your wonderful review, I can’t wait to get to this.

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                  • At 2013.01.08 07:48, Beth F said:

                    Great review! Makes you really think about the paintings you see in museums.

                    • At 2013.01.14 15:32, Julie said:

                      I enjoyed this as well. Although some of the art lingo was over my head. 🙂

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