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Late and Soon: a Novel Paperback – September 19, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786718005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786718009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,851,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Sotheby's art specialist must arrange a career-making auction of 19th-century paintings, reconsider the loss of her marriage and negotiate the possibilities of new romance in Hughes's mannered, elegant debut. At an art opening one evening, Claire, 32, encounters Tobias, the man her ex-husband, Peter, left her for, and learns that that Peter has dumped Tobias, too. Claire can offer sympathy but not much attention: she has her own still-wounded heart to think about, and she's tied up in securing two paintings by James Tissot (a "first-rate second-tier artist") for her auction from Elizabeth Jane Driscoll, an octogenarian widow with undeserving heirs. To both women, the paintings bear the symbolic weight of memory and desire. Also in the picture is Peter's brother, Frank, a former priest who arrives in New York with a confused affection for Claire, and spunky Bernice Carton, who collects art by collecting husbands. Hughes, a Wall Street Journal reporter who's covered the auction market, depicts the meeting of art and commerce with an insider's keen eye, and it is this part of the book that fascinates most. Claire's emotional twists and turns, rendered in ornamental prose attuned to the slightest shift in feeling or nuance, are less novel but nevertheless affecting in this credible tale of longing and hope. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In his first novel, Hughes, a reporter who covers the auction market, uses his specialty to good effect. Sotheby's art expert Claire is putting together a pivotal auction that could boost her career prospects. Assiduously cultivating relationships with the owners of fine art, she strikes up an arrangement with a society matron, now widowed, who is finally ready to part with a treasured painting. Claire is also struggling to assimilate the news that her ex-husband, who left her for a man, has now broken off that relationship and started seeing someone else. She feels a welter of emotions, including glee that the paramour has gotten his comeuppance, envy at her ex's facility and courage in seeking out lovers, and awareness that she has not gotten over his betrayal, though it happened long ago. Hughes brings a near Jamesian complexity to his analysis of Claire's shifting emotions, which are laid out in dense prose, and of the rarefied art world and its sometimes greedy, sometimes felicitous denizens. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on October 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Robert J. Hughes has written a beautifully layered novel that reminded me of Henry James. Set in modern-day New York, it follows the lives of four richly drawn characters and their entangled love lives. Hughes has created an empathetic protagonist in Claire and the men surrounding her are equally engaging and memorable. Best of all, Hughes casts New York as an important character as well, and illuminates the city's art and opera scene with an insider's knowledge. This is definitely for fans of Henry James and Edith Wharton -- set in modern times. A must read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on March 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hughes' elegant, Jamesian prose is perfect for the rarefied art world and deep introspection of his first novel. A Wall Street Journal reporter who covers the art auction market, Hughes centers his story around Claire, a 32-year-old 19th-century-art specialist at Sotheby's in New York. From Claire the third-person narrative shifts among several others: her ex-husband Peter; Toby, the man Peter left her for five years earlier, and Frank, Peter's edgy brother, a former priest.

All, except Frank, are involved in the commerce of art. Toby is a video curator; Peter an antique-furniture dealer. Claire is putting together a sale of 19th century paintings, which could make her career.

As the novel begins, she runs into Toby at a museum exhibit opening. Peter has left him for another man, a police detective, and Toby has sought her out for some kind of solace. "She waited for him to speak. She would not sympathize with his humiliation, having suffered her own, even if only indirectly through him way back when."

But over the years she has become friendly with Toby. "He'd sought her advice, he'd shown her kindness. The kindness of the vanquisher, but still."

Clearly, Claire still harbors little barbs of resentment, and unhappy Toby finally realizes she can, or will, be no comfort to him. But his distress has unsettled Claire, making her more aware of her own remoteness and social stagnation. She was often sought out as a confidante but "she was a confidante who had so little actual regard, she thought, for the essential humanness of those who chose her for verbal intimacies. She didn't know if her demeanor - a kind of hesitant acceptance of the suggestive other - led people to sense demureness that suggested depth of feeling.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen C. Rubin on November 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Just the kind of thing I like best -- interesting characters, with subtle analysis of their thoughts, motivations, development over time. It's set in the art world of New York City which makes an interesting backdrop. It would make for a great book-group discussion, so I'm going to suggest it to my book group.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Margaret M. Maccarrone on October 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Late and Soon by Robert J. Hughes. The story had lots of information about the art world and the characters were very interesting as I learned more about their backgrounds and how their relationships intertwined with each other. I would love for this story to continue. I would recommend that this is a great book to read!
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