A Nearly Perfect Copy: Book summary and reviews of A Nearly Perfect Copy by Allison Amend

A Nearly Perfect Copy

By Allison Amend

A Nearly Perfect Copy
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    304 pages.

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About this book

Book Summary

Richly drawn and sharply observed, A Nearly Perfect Copy is a smart and affecting novel of family and forgery set amidst the rarefied international art world.

Elm Howells has a loving family and a distinguished career at an elite Manhattan auction house. But after a tragic loss throws her into an emotional crisis, she pursues a reckless course of action that jeopardizes her personal and professional success. Meanwhile, talented artist Gabriel Connois wearies of remaining at the margins of the capricious Parisian art scene. Desperate for recognition, he embarks on a scheme that threatens his burgeoning reputation. As these narratives converge, with disastrous consequences, A Nearly Perfect Copy boldly challenges our presumptions about originality and authenticity, loss and replacement, and the perilous pursuit of perfection. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred & Boxed Review. Clever, wry ... Amend makes her characters immediately real, depicting their complicated desires and decisions in a highly enjoyable, nearly perfect novel." - Publishers Weekly

"A fast-paced, lively novel of forgery ... Amend provides a fizzy, entertaining insider's look at the conjunction of visual art and commerce - especially the world of art auctions ... Her exploration of the ethics and the mechanics of the art world provide charm and enjoyment ... A provocative and likable read." - Kirkus

"Allison Amend has given us a flawlessly rendered, totally engrossing, class-and-continent hopping story about the day to day struggles of marriage and loss, the commerce and caprice of high art, the reality of being talented and ambitious when talent and ambition are not enough, and the ethics of cloning. Every scene, every page, every passage of this novel has been written with the stunning clarity and great humanity of a true artist at the height of her abilities. My guess is, if you read this book you will soon be shoving it into the hand of someone you love. I certainly will." - Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

"Just when you think you know where A Nearly Perfect Copy is going, it swerves, like life, in some new direction. Allison Amend has packed this book with wit, style, yearning, risk, damage, truth, and compassion, populated it with characters who breathe with their own individual mystery, and along the way written what just might be the definitive fictional treatment of art forgery." - Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead

"This is what people mean when they use the term 'intelligent page-turner.' Amend is a brilliant storyteller, whose pitch-perfect observations call to mind Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan. The complicated, completely fascinating characters (built with such human sympathy), the intricacy and cleverness of the plot, and the razor sharp exploration of contemporary mores make for a truly masterful read. I loved, loved, loved it." - Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age

"Allison Amend is a gifted storyteller - no, more than gifted. Her writing is powerful enough to create its own kind of weather. Her characters are so real it's as if you could reach between the pages and shake hands with them." - Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Melinda H. (Midlothian, VA)
A Nearly Perfect Copy
I read this book because I am fascinated by the art world and its many facets; however, very quickly, I found myself caught off guard by the dichotomy found within the walls of the story. I found the parallels to be a fascinating ride sweeping me through the pages of this well thought out story. It is an interesting, intelligent, thought provoking novel that reaches far beyond the art world. Much like Jodi Piccoult, Allison Amend makes you consider your stance on timely, moral issues. If you are interested in the art world, or the medical field, you will find this a great addition to your 'to read' shelf.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Dee H. (Greenfield, CA)
Ethical vs. Unethical: A Slippery Slope
The pace of this book is very languid, and I put it down a couple of times. However, the dilemmas encountered by the protagonists kept drawing me back to read further to see what choices they made. I have always been fascinated by the "art world", and this book gives a bit of insight into the authentication process, and the angst of artists who don't quite make the grade on their own merits. I can't say too much about the conflicts encountered here without giving away the plot, but suffice it to say this book is well worth the effort to read. I do recommend it to art aficionados and others wanting to understand how the lines between ethical and unethical behavior can become seriously blurred.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Teresa M. (Naples, FL)
A Tale of Two Copies
Having recently read "The Art Forger," I wanted to see how this book might be different, and it certainly was. "A Nearly Perfect Copy" not only refers to art forgery, but also to forging people (cloning), a subject I knew little about.

How the two forgeries meld together was an interesting concept. Elm is an expert in 17th-19th century drawings, and lost her oldest child in the tsunami. Unable to get over his death, she is presented with an opportunity to recreate her beloved child. Can she resist?

Gabriel a 40-something struggling painter in Paris has never made it professionally and is presented with an opportunity to achieve wealth, fame and success by forging his great- grandfather's priceless paintings.

Both characters are presented with moral dilemmas that test their ethics, financial security and family life. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
A Nearly Perfect Copy
While I did enjoy this book, there were several aspects of disappointment. If you are looking for a book that delves into the world of forged paintings, intrigue and art history, this is not the book. If you are looking for a book that deals with the choices to be made in life, the potential outcomes of "prostituting" one's artistic soul for monetary gain, then this would be the book for you! The characters are well drawn and are interesting people, for all their flaws; some of the "minor" characters are downright intriguing and I would have liked to learn more about them. The writing style was relatively easy to follow. Each chapter/section dealt with one of the two major characters, but the transitions were quite easy to follow and didn't distract from the reading rhythm.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by John W. (Saint Louis, MO)
Is Cloning the Same as Art Forgery?
I loved the plot of "A Nearly Perfect Copy" and the writer's ability to keep the reader guessing what lay ahead for the two main characters. If you prefer books where you fall in love with one of the main characters, forget this book – Elm and Gabriel are not likeable. The author is able to craft a story where the reader is able to understand and empathize with the two main characters. It is easy to see how the characters have become their own worst enemy.

"A Nearly Perfect Copy" did get me thinking about the value of striving for perfection and the lengths some people are willing to go in an attempt to achieve it. It is an interesting study of ethics and values.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Gail G. (Northbrook, IL)
A Nearly Perfect Copy by Allison Amend
Story well written and easy to read with lots of art information but I found myself disliking the main characters Elmira Howell and Gabriel Connais, who seemed to get through life on their ancestor's coattails.

Both characters involved in illegal activities which leads them to bad behavior choices. Elm's behavior is governed by loss of her son to the extent that she no longer works well and can't focus on the activities which are most important to her life, job, husband, daughter.

Gabriel can't paint anything really original, the only good thing he can do is turn out work that looks like his ancestor's.

The demons the characters face are real but I do not have enough sympathy with which to emphasize with their problems.

I found the book slow reading and not particularly enjoyable.

...15 more reader reviews

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Allison Amend, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the author of the Independent Publisher's Award-winning short story collection Things That Pass for Love and the novel Stations West, which was a finalist for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Oklahoma Book Award. She lives in New York City. Visit her at www.allisonamend.com

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