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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.
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 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.
Linda M. (Windsor, CA)
Review of "A Nearly Perfect Copy"
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bookworm (Oshkosh, WI)
A not quite perfect story
Overall I enjoyed this book, but I was disappointed with the last quarter of it. My attention was immediately captured and drawn into the stories of Elm and Gabriel and I enjoyed the "insider's" look at the world of fine art. However, I expected there to be a better intertwining of the two main characters' lives and actions and felt that the ending was very dissatisfying. The author's level of detail and the complexity of the characters' emotions and motivations noticeably dwindled as the story came to a close - it almost seemed that she ran out of ideas and was in a hurry to finish the book. The moral and ethical questions raised in the plot would make this a good book for a group to discuss.
Julie M. (Minnetonka, MN)
No replacement for the real thing
The story alternates between a woman going to extreme measures to recapture her past and an artist using his past to create the present he wishes he was living. Both discover what seemed so important and what they thought was the only thing that could bring them happiness was the very thing that was keeping them from being happy. People, like works of great art, are originals and can only be themselves and cannot be replicated or replaced no matter how one might try to manipulate circumstances and nature.