Looking for a novel you can’t put down? No doubt about it, THE ART FORGER by B.A. Shapiro is your book!
Shapiro has managed to use her knowledge of art and Boston to bring us a page-turning thriller that is both literary and entertaining. I found myself so drawn into the world of art and forgery that I forgot where I even was.
Claire Roth is a young artist making a living copying famous artwork for the internet. When she is approached by an owner of a renown art gallery in Boston, it is to do something totally against her principals. She is torn. And it doesn’t help that she has a background of some infamy, as it stands.
I vaguely recall hearing about the theft of over $500 million dollars worth of art from a gallery in Boston in 1990. The name of the gallery was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The artwork was never recovered. Even with a reward being offered of $5 million. FBI had no luck and few leads.
Claire is an expert on the art of Degas. She’s copied his work and sold it online. But she is a superb artist on her own. She knows things about Degas. Things most people either don’t know or have missed. And this is where the story gets ratcheted up a notch.
This story just gets better and better. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, bang, another twist. So much mystery and intrigue. So many interesting and exciting facts. So much authenticity.
I found myself settling into the city of Boston. I felt the sense of the city surrounding me as Shapiro took Claire around the streets, through the Gardner Museum, and into the homes of the characters. And the Gardner Museum is now on my list of must-see places in Boston. The artwork comes totally alive as the colors pop and grind.
The relationship between Edgar Degas and Isabella Stewart Gardner is knowingly fabricated by the author. However, they did live in the same time and moved in the same crowd. So, it is plausible. If not realistic. I so enjoyed the letters Gardner sent her niece. How fun to feel as though you are peeking inside a clandestine affair.
The mounting tension between Claire and her lover sets the tone perfectly. Can they get away with this? What is it, after all, that they are getting away with? And do they both have secrets from each other?
The procedures of actually reproducing a work of such renown and age are staggering. But Shapiro manages to show us how and what is being done in such a way that we follow along happily. And feel as though we have learned how it is all done. Bravo! The ovens to make the paint crack; the ink added at the end and then wiped off. Amazing stuff.
But the bottom line is that this fabulous new novel is going to be a big hit this season and for some time to come. There is much here to discuss. Book groups rejoice. You have a masterpiece to use with this one.
B.A. Shapiro is working on a new novel. I am already looking forward to it.
I have the generous publishing people at Algonquin to thank for my gorgeous finished hard copy of THE ART FORGER. Thanks, guys.