The BookBrowse Review

Published September 16, 2020

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

The Talented Miss Farwell
by Emily Gray Tedrowe
29 Sep 2020
352 pages
Publisher: Custom House
ISBN-13: 9780062897725
Genre: Thrillers
Critics:
Readers:
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Catch Me If You Can meets Patricia Highsmith in this electrifying page-turner of greed and obsession, survival and self-invention that is a piercing character study of one unforgettable female con artist.

At the end of the 1990s, with the art market finally recovered from its disastrous collapse, Miss Rebecca Farwell has made a killing at Christie's in New York City, selling a portion of her extraordinary art collection for a rumored 900 percent profit. Dressed in couture YSL, drinking the finest champagne at trendy Balthazar, Reba, as she's known, is the picture of a wealthy art collector. To some, the elusive Miss Farwell is a shark with outstanding business acumen. To others, she's a heartless capitalist whose only interest in art is how much she can make.

But a thousand miles from the Big Apple, in the small town of Pierson, Illinois, Miss Farwell is someone else entirely—a quiet single woman known as Becky who still lives in her family's farmhouse, wears sensible shoes, and works tirelessly as the town's treasurer and controller.

No one understands the ins and outs of Pierson's accounts better than Becky; she's the last one in the office every night, crunching the numbers. Somehow, her neighbors marvel, she always finds a way to get the struggling town just a little more money. What Pierson doesn't see—and can never discover—is that much of that money is shifted into a separate account that she controls, "borrowed" funds used to finance her art habit. Though she quietly repays Pierson when she can, the business of art is cutthroat and unpredictable.

But as Reba Farwell's deals get bigger and bigger, Becky Farwell's debt to Pierson spirals out of control. How long can the talented Miss Farwell continue to pull off her double life?

"The unusual plot and Tedrowe's spirited execution of it make this one sing." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Both light-hearted and deeply conflicted, Tedrowe's caper, with its Becky Sharp allusions, raises significant moral issues." - Booklist

"Becky Farwell is one of the most wickedly compelling characters I've read in ages -- a Machiavellian marvel, a modern Becky Sharp, a character to root for despite your better judgment -- and her story, both topical and timeless, will knock you off your feet." - Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

"If ever you are looking for a book to provide an escape from your own reality, I heartily recommend Emily Gray Tedrowe's The Talented Miss Farwell. Becky Farwell is the most sympathetic, art-collecting, money-laundering villain I have ever encountered. She literally bleeds her hometown dry -- the empty swimming pools of Pierson are heartbreaking -- and yet somehow, I loved her." - Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice

"The Talented Miss Farwell is utterly magnificent. Not since Tom Ripley have I fallen so hard for a con artist...Becky Farwell is an unforgettable character. She is the beating heart of this spellbinding page-turner about art, greed, and self-invention." - Cristina Alger, New York Times bestselling author of Girls Like Us

"The gritty underbelly of the art market and the pathology of decades of financial chicanery meet their delirious match in Tedrowe's Miss Farwell, who stands glaring up at the reader from the intersection of Hitchcock's Marnie and Highsmith's Ripley. Watch out for papercuts." - Jonathan Lethem

Write your own review

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by ELIZABETH @Silver's Reviews
ENJOYABLE
Becky Farwell was brilliant in math and made money during high school tutoring friends either for money, clothes, or shoes.

Her life wasn't easy, though. Her mother had died, and she was left taking care of her ill father so she felt she couldn't go to college.

What she did do was help her father with his failing business and work as the town's treasurer.

She does some shady things with the town's money because she had developed a love and obsession for art, and you know art is expensive.

We follow Becky from her high school days to her days as an art connoisseur which got her into terrible debt to the town as she skimmed money from the treasurer’s office accounts into a personal account.

I actually liked her even though she was doing things not on the up and up. Becky was a determined woman when it came to her art and what she wanted.

THE TALENTED MISS FARWELL is an enjoyable read simply because you can't believe what she is doing.

The writing is fresh and pulls you in. A wonderful book for a debut.

Art aficionados and any reader who just needs something different will find this book enjoyable. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Emily Gray Tedrowe is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Talented Miss Farwell, Blue Stars, and Commuters. She earned a PhD in English literature from New York University, and a BA from Princeton University. She has received an Illinois Arts Council award as well as fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. A frequent book reviewer for USA Today as well as other publications, Tedrowe also writes essays, interviews, and short stories.

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