B.A. Shapiro, I have a greater appreciation for the amount of work that goes into creating a painting......
What goes into forging or "copying" a great work of art.
In The Art Forger, 20+ years have passed since the notorious theft of Edgar Degas' painting After the Bath. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has never been the same since the theft. But museum officials and the FBI have never stopped looking for the painting and the other works of art stolen in the heist. After the Bath is beloved by art students and historians around the world. Artist Claire Roth has always admired Degas. But unlike Degas, Claire is still trying to make her mark on the art world.
Claire is a pariah in the art community after accusing her former mentor and lover of passing her work off as his own. Only it wasn't an accusation, it was the truth. But who would believe Claire? Without any proof, Claire's word isn't good enough. Claire does her best to make others believe her, but the most influential people in the art world only see what they want to see. It's easier to believe in the established artist than a no-name like Claire. In the three years since, Claire is barely getting by. She's still trying to get the word out about her original works of art, but has to make a living "reproducing" paintings for an online retailer. A bit of irony huh? Claire is making a living copying the works of others after accusing someone of doing the same to her. She's become an expert at her new career. This expertise ultimately leads Claire down a dangerous path.
The handsome Aiden Markel, a powerful art gallery owner, offers Claire the deal of a lifetime. Produce a copy of After The Bath and Claire can have her own show in his gallery. Is there something wrong with that? Yes!! Aiden appears to be in possession of the stolen painting and wants Claire to produce a copy that could fool a potential buyer. How does he come into possession of the painting? I wasn't totally clear on that one, but I was certain nothing good could come from this. The real painting will go back to the museum, and everyone, including Claire, will benefit. It sounds too good to be true. Despite her new career, Claire still has a sense of integrity. What kind of person does it make her if she goes through with this? What if the authorities find out? What's Aiden's agenda? Why come to Claire? But, there is a lot of good that could come out of this deal. A one-woman show will finally give Claire the validation she's been looking for internally and professionally.
As an added bonus, Claire and Aiden become more than just business partners. There are two ways to look at that one. Claire has a small circle of friends, but her life was lacking an intimate connection. When she's around Aiden, Claire seems more happy. She's starting to believe there is a future for her and Aiden. On the other hand, her love or infatuation for Aiden clouds Claire's judgment. When the deal goes bad, Claire does everything she can to save Aiden. Would she be working so hard if they weren't romantically involved? Would she care so much?
I was immediately pulled into the story. It's clear a lot of research went into this book. I was fascinated by the art forger process. This book could give a lot of forgers ideas. Claire seemed more like a surgeon than an artist. I say that because Claire worked on the After the Bath copy with extreme precision, just like a surgeon would when operating on a patient. Each layer of paint and each brushstroke has to be perfect. As I was reading the book, I was hoping she would get it right. I didn't want Claire to get caught. She needed something to finally go right for her. Even when the authorities close in on Claire and Aiden, I was still hoping for the happy ending. Morally what they were doing was wrong, but I wasn't so sure it was illegal. Right up until the end, you will be asking yourself that question. This was definitely a page-turner for me. Whether you're into the artworld or not, this book is definitely worth reading. It has a little bit of everything, romance, mystery, and suspense.
Rating: O.M.G. !!
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Algonquin) in exchange for an honest review.