Alice and Natalie Kessler were 14 and 16 years old sisters on vacation with their parents at the same lakeside cabin the family has rented for years. This year, 1963, Thomas Bayber, a talented artist, is staying in the cabin next door. The girls enjoy spending time with Thomas, talking about birds and nature, even though he is twice their age. The girls exhibit typical sibling rivalry for the attention of Thomas, and because he lives close to where the family vacations, the sisters manage to see him every summer until 1971.
Flash forward to 2007 and Thomas is no longer painting. He lives the life of a recluse in NY. Thomas has a never before revealed work of himself and the sisters in a somewhat compromising portrait from one summer when they spent time together. The the side panels of the triptych are missing and he enlists the help of (2) men in the art profession, Dennis, an authenticator and Stephen, a historian to not only find the missing panels, but also to find these long lost sisters.
It took me a while to get into this story as the beginning was a slow-moving for me. This is the type of novel that is going to take patience on the part of the reader for several reasons: It's a story that starts in 1963 and ends in 2007, and moves back and forth in time. There are several threads which run though this story which is challenging in itself, and there are quite a few unlikable characters as well.
To the author's credit, the writing shows promise. Vivid prose, a mystery to unravel and great details about art --- it's a subject you can tell the author is passionate about. I wanted to love this debut novel, but it had just a bit too much going on in it for me.