The Art Forger, by Barbara Shapiro
Format: epub e-book
On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.
I was very excited when I was finally able to check this book out through my local library's e-book service. It had been sitting on my to-be-read list for a while because I didn't want to buy it and the library didn't have a print version. So when I got a tablet for Christmas and discovered that e-books were not as awful as I imagined them to be, I got on the waiting list for The Art Forger (yes, even e-books have waiting lists and a 2 week check-out time limit). Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, the book did not live up to my expectations. It was good enough for me to finish it, but not good enough for me to rush through it. And it has taken me a week to get around to writing out my thoughts.
The premise was interesting enough, but the story just kind of drug along. I never got really excited about the plot or the characters. The life of a starving artist just isn't that engaging, and I found the characters annoying and underdeveloped. But the book did have a few redeeming qualities. The secondary characters added a little bit of depth and interest that Claire and Aiden were lacking, and I loved the historical letters written by Isabella Gardner to her niece. The other thing I liked about the book was that it got me more interested in art in general, and Degas in particular. But in contrast to Isabella Gardner, I prefer his later, more Impressionistic work.