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
    Genre: Novels

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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

The information about A Nearly Perfect Copy shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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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

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.

Charlene M. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

A Nearly Perefct Copy
"A Nearly Perfect Copy" by Allison Amend is a fascinating character study about two self-centered people, Elm & Gabriel, trying to cope in the worlds they created. It's a story about profound loss, art forgers and forgeries, cloning & how two unrelated people stories are intertwined. And a tour of the art world from the Paris art community to the auction houses of New York. From the very first page you'll be hooked.

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.

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!

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.

...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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