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The Art Forger Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

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 19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

©2012 Barbara Shapiro (P)2012 HighBridge Company

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

439 of 498 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Art Forger: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro is presented as a literary thriller and on its cover author of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Arthur Golden, promises a novel that will "leave you with a new appreciation of how paintings are made, evaluated, and understood - not to mention how they're copied."

Well that sold me! I am always game for learning more about fine art and the book's title, THE ART FORGER, suggested to me a topic I could really get involved in. I have a love for the Impressionists and a special fondness for Degas; I also love a good thriller so this book sounded perfect for me. It is a fictionalized account of the unsolved 1990 art heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Included in that robbery were priceless masterpieces of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas.

The cover blurbs already set the story up quite extensively and outline the plot. So I will just tell you what I liked and disliked about this book. It's definitely not great literature. Nor is it especially well written. At best it is light reading and just barely worthy of my 3 star rating for "fair."

I'll save the best for last and begin with what did not work for me:
- The prose is lackluster and jejune. I was hoping for language that would match the beauty of the great works of art that are at the core of this story but alas the prose lacks any lyricism and is rendered into the dry and elemental.
- The plotting is over-managed and too pat. It takes much too long to get off the ground and then when it does it moves in a predictable direction, attempting unsuccessfully to dodge the several sinkholes that open up in the plot.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Barbara J. Mitchell VINE VOICE on November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There was no way I would miss this wonderful novel. For one thing, book bloggers I trust loved it. Secondly, I spent a lovely day in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston long ago, before thieves made off with art worth about $500 million today, and I was completely taken with this sort of quirky museum founded by a sort of quirky rich lady.

The story wasn't quite what I expected but that's a good thing. It doesn't involve the thefts directly but that's always in the background informing the plot. This is about a struggling young artist who is brilliantly talented but has been caught up in unfortunate circumstances due to love gone wrong. Claire Roth is her name. She makes a living, such as it is, copying great paintings for a reproduction company.

Then Claire makes a Faustian bargain with an art gallery owner who promises to produce her first show. She believes fervently that what she is doing is legal but it sets her off on a search for a real Degas that she believes has been forged. The plot is complex and so is the art technique she eventually uses but it isn't at all difficult for this non-artist to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about painting.

Highly recommended reading.
Source: Amazon Vine - thank you.
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130 of 153 people found the following review helpful By G. Kellner VINE VOICE on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Claire works for, copying works of Old Masters for sale to well-to-do clients who can't afford the original. A gallery owner makes a deal with her--copy Degas's "After the Bath-5"--the painting that was stolen in an art heist in 1990 and has never been seen since and he'll give her her own show at his gallery. Claire, who has been blackballed in the art world over a work by her professor/ex-lover, jumps at the chance. He brings her the original--the stolen painting. Only--Claire figures out it's a copy as well. There's more to the story, but that's the gist--I don't want to give it all away. I did learn a lot about art forgery and about painting in general. I also liked learning about the insular little art world and the people that populate it. A good bit of history as well, although we find out later there was no "After the Bath" part 5--Degas' Bath series ended with 4. But it definitely kept my attention and made me feel cultured and sophisticated.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Art Forger marks B.A. Shapiro's fiction debut.

Now I must admit, I have very little knowledge of the art world. So I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not.

What I found fascinating was that Shapiro wove her story around actual historical figures and events. In 1990 the Gardner Museum was robbed of a number of significant art works. They have never been recovered. The works were collected by Isabelle Stewart Gardner - a woman who lived life on her own terms.

Shapiro's narrator and main character is painter Claire Roth. She survived a scandal personally, but the professional fallout has left her 'reproducing' famous art works for a living. When a well known gallery owner approaches her about reproducing a famous work in exchange for a show of her own work, she hesitates - but agrees. The work she'll be copying is one of Degas's - and one stolen from the Gardner. Or is it?

Shapiro's research has been carefully carried out. She describes the atmosphere, the smell, the process of painting with great detail and passion. I did actually learn quite a bit during my read, but at the end did find myself glossing over some of these passages as they seemed to cover ground already discussed. The same process is covered multiple times.

Shapiro uses flashbacks very effectively. In bits and pieces we learn what happened to Claire three years ago and what led to her current situation. As that story unfolds, it seems that history may be repeating itself. Has Claire made the same tragic mistakes yet again?

The third storyline is told in 1880's letters from Isabelle to her niece - her only confidant. The mystery of the current day missing paintings might be found in these missives.
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