- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (February 18, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385502613
- ISBN-13: 978-0385502610
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,567,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Restoration: A Novel Hardcover – February 18, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Bradley (Tupelo Nights; My Juliet) is back in top form with this smart and disarmingly romantic novel about the artistic, erotic and racial history of New Orleans. Disenchanted after 10 years as a columnist for a New Orleans newspaper, Jack Charbonnet sells his deceased father's art collection and retires from journalism at age 32. At a small dinner party, Jack, who's white, meets and falls in love with an African-American art restorer, Rhys Goudeau. She awakens in Jack a passionate interest in the paintings of Levette Asmore, a once renowned, now nearly forgotten New Orleans artist who committed suicide in 1941 at the age of 23. Asmore, a white artist who created sexually charged paintings of black women, had created a large-scale WPA-sponsored painting for the city shortly before his death; the subject of the mural-blacks and whites dancing together at Mardi Gras-caused such a furor that he voluntarily whitewashed it. Rhys becomes convinced that the painting still exists and can be restored, and she and Jack become co-conspirators in an art heist. Though Rhys clearly returns Jack's affection, she still refuses to become his lover. Their quest turns up unexpected revelations about Asmore's family history and the racy shenanigans of New Orleans high society; it forces both Jack and Rhys to reconsider the ways they think about race. The novel is an artful combination of history, mystery, romance and a comedy of Southern manners. Bradley probes racial politics thoughtfully, with a light touch. This is his best novel in years.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Like the John Sayles film Lone Star, this novel concerns a white man's confrontation with race issues in America. It succeeds the same way the movie did: by using a historical mystery to examine honestly how close our society has (or hasn't) come to treating all people equally--and how far one man can go in a personal journey of enlightenment. The story follows a former New Orleans newspaper columnist as he immerses himself in southern art while chasing the elusive story of Levette Asmore, a promising artist of the early 1940s who jumped off the Huey P. Long Bridge after being forced to destroy his mural of an interracial Mardi Gras celebration. Compelling, complex characters doing interesting things while working through important emotional and philosophical issues--this is the stuff of genuine literature, and all underpinned by exacting research. Although it's a bit too earnest at times and offers up a straw man for a villain, the narrative flows rich and smooth as chicory coffee at a Vieux Carre cafe. It's a rewarding read. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Robert Merivel is a fop, so typically the silly bourgeois who wants desperately to gain entree into the overripe opulence of Charles II's entourage and, more to the point, into the private sunshine of the king's occasional smile. But Merivel has saving graces -- he doesn't take himself too seriously and he is capable of love. We like him in spite of himself. In Merivel Tremain shows us that for all its frivolous excesses, Restoration culture masked the roots of the Enlightenment in the form of inquiring minds, increasingly acute and insightful when they stopped playing long enough to pay attention.
The characters are richly developed, the story is complex enough: I was kept guessing about the denoument. SPOILER ALERT It has a "happy" ending. I also got a large serving of Southern artists that I am investigating. (and I learned something!) I can't wait for the new book out in May14.