Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)
An Interesting Study of the Human Condition
"A Nearly Perfect Copy" kept me interested from the first page. I read it in two days and felt a bit of loss when I finished. That is the sign of a very readable book.
This novel involves two overlapping stories. One revolves around the torment of a New York City art expert, Elm Howells, from the lesser branch of the founders of the auction house that employs her. Elm is still reeling from the tragic loss of her young son. Her inconsolable grief has caused estrangement in her marriage, a loss of passion in her work and a complete inability to move forward. When she learns some acquaintances of her husband have decided to clone their beloved dog, Elm is at first horrified and then fascinated. What if….?
Meanwhile, across the pond in Paris, unsuccessful artist Gabriel Connois struggles with his inability to make a splash within the Parisian art scene. He is the descendent of a pseudo famous Spanish artist and developed an uncanny ability to replicate his more illustrious ancestor's work. He has his own vision; however, after meeting a woman of more extravagant tastes than his bank account can handle, he is offered an opportunity to earn some money – the old fashioned way – forgery.
I appreciated this book as a study of the human condition, of moral ambivalence, of seeking justification for our actions, and then trying to live with the decisions made. This is in part a tragedy involving regret, self-flagellation, insecurity, fear, and loss of self. It is in part a morality play. While I can't say I liked any of the main characters, I did feel empathy. I could understand the temptations.
While I found the book at times over-plotted, I liked the book. And when I'm reading fiction and it transports me to another place, it is okay if I'm asked to suspend believe with regard to coincidences. That being said, I work in a field where I often see that truth is stranger than fiction. So, who know
Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)
Two Fascinating Worlds with Interesting Characters
Once I moved past the rather slow beginning, the author's intimate knowledge of the settings of this novel kept me going. The art worlds of New York and Paris are fascinating, and then the author throws in the main character Elm's obsession with grief, a refusal to stop mourning the death of a child that leads to a whole new set of problems. While Gabriel, the Paris artist, was also interesting, I found this book to be more plot-driven and issue-driven than character-driven. That said, the writing is excellent, the book is well worth reading, and I look forward to reading more from Allison Amend.
Vicki R. (York, PA)
"A Nearly Perfect Copy"
"A Nearly Perfect Copy" by Allison Amend is a fairly quick, easy read. The way the author goes back and forth between the characters, Elm and Gabriel, keeps the reader interested and engaged. I felt that the characters were well developed and the reader could understand why certain decisions were made. However, the way that Elm goes about having another child really lowered the believability of the book. The ending was somewhat of a disappointment which is why I gave it a 3. I realize there was a lesson to be learned; however I would have liked to have seen the two characters have more interaction in the end. Even with the disheartening ending, there could have been more closure for the reader.
Linda M. (Windsor, CA)
Review of "A Nearly Perfect Copy"
I enjoyed this story of art forgery juxtaposed against cloning and alternating between New York and Paris. The story entered the world of art galleries and the nefarious world of art forgeries and the intricacies of making the forgeries believable. The two main characters were well-written but I didn't find they struggled as much as they should have with the difficult decisions they had to make. I found the beginning of the book to be somewhat slow although it probably had to be to set the stage for the interaction among all of the characters. I would recommend this to book clubs; I think the issues which were raised make great fodder for discussion.
Mary M. (Beverly Hills, FL)
Intersecting web of deceit
This clever and witty novel tells the story of two people involved in the art world, and the lengths to which they will go, and the moral compromises they will make, to fulfill their dreams and needs. Elm Howell is a respected appraiser at an old-line art auction house, a family business. She has suffered the terrible personal loss of a beloved child. Her grief clouds her judgment and she makes several risky, damaging decisions, involving her personal and professional life, that threaten to undo her and her marriage. Gabriel Connois is a descendent of a well-known artist of the Impressionist period. He is talented, but has not found the success and recognition he craves in the cruel and fickle Paris art world. He is more a victim than Elm, though he is ultimately responsible for his fate. Both of these people are drawn into overlapping schemes of forgery and deceit, and in Elm's case, even more. The characters are complicated, interesting, and believable (though not necessarily likeable). The reader cares what happens to them. The story is intricately plotted with twists I never saw coming. Allison Amend draws a sharply satirical and slyly humorous picture of the art world, and those people, some fragile, some venal, some supremely selfish, yet very human, who populate it.
I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in an intelligent story, with complex characters and plotting. It would probably be an excellent choice for a book club.
Joan N. (Evanston, IL)
A not-so-perfect novel
The novel has two protagonists: a mother living on the Upper East Side of New York and a down-and-out artist living in Paris. The settings are rendered especially well. Where I had problems was with the protagonists. Although the author tries to make them sympathetic due to the circumstances of their lives—the mother has lost a child, the artist deals with poverty—I never found them sympathetic enough to root for them as they make significant life choices. The novel is well written but ultimately I disliked the characters too much to like the book.
Mary Ellen (Canfield, OH)
A Nearly Perfect Copy
The title of this book is significant as it relates to forgery in the art world and the subject of cloning. It was, however, misclassified as a mystery. It is rather an in-depth character study of its two main characters with an insight into the art world. The characters are rather unlikeable and the subplot somewhat unbelievable. Although not my favorite read, it might be of interest to art enthusiasts.