Wednesday, April 20, 2016

THE ART FORGER by B.A. Shapiro

Unlike some struggling artists, Claire Roth has real talent.  However, she has made some very poor judgment calls.  Like Margaret Keane, the subject of the movie Big Eyes, Claire has allowed a man to take credit for her work.  The fallout from that mistake has made her a pariah in the art world, until a prestigious gallery owner, Aiden Markel, offers her a deal.  Claire has been eking out a living reproducing famous paintings, and Markel will pay her handsomely and give her a showing at his gallery in return for reproducing a stolen Degas.  This opportunity to restore her reputation is a temptation that Claire can hardly pass up, even if what she’s doing may not be strictly legal.  She figures that forgery is only a crime if she is misrepresenting the reproduction as the original, but still she’s walking a thin line here.  Markel claims that he will return the original to the Gardner Museum, from whence it was stolen in a heist of several masterpieces.  Things start to look fishy when Claire begins to suspect that the original Degas she is copying may actually also be a forgery.  In that case, the thieves unwittingly stole a forgery that was hanging in the museum, causing Claire to wonder what happened to the original.  Markel is charming and persuasive but perhaps a tad shady and not completely forthcoming about where the “original” came from and where Claire’s copy is going.  Claire, on the other hand, is just suspicious enough of Markel to keep her doubts about the original’s authenticity to herself.  This is a juicy, highly entertaining novel about betrayal, obsession, scandal, subterfuge, and certainly the art world, from the perspective of Claire, a blackballed outsider doing whatever it takes to maneuver her way back in.  She’s dedicated, meticulous, talented, and tenacious, and deserves a break, despite not necessarily having followed the straight and narrow path.  Flawed characters often make the most compelling characters.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this one too- so much that I went to the author's website to see what else she wrote.

PattisPages said...

Thanks for commenting!