Summary and book reviews of The Art Forger by B Shapiro

The Art Forger

by B A. Shapiro

The Art Forger
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2013, 384 pages

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Book Summary

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there's more to this crime than meets the eye.

#1 Indie Next Pick for November 2012

On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there's more to this crime than meets the eye.

Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting - one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum - in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting - the one that had been hanging for one hundred years at the Gardner - is delivered to Claire's studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Claire's search for the truth about the painting's origins leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life. B. A. Shapiro's razor-sharp writing and rich plot twists make The Art Forger an absorbing literary thriller that treats us to three centuries of forgers, art thieves, and obsessive collectors. it's a dazzling novel about seeing - and not seeing - the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.

Excerpt
The Art Forger

"These some of your reproductions?" he calls from the other side of the room. Aiden Markel, the owner of the world-renowned Markel G, here for a studio visit. Aiden Markel, who just a few months ago barely acknowledged my presence when I stopped by his tony Newbury Street gallery to see a new installation.

I look over my shoulder. "Yeah. I don't usually have any completed ones here. But the truck's tied up all week, so the Degas isn't getting picked up till Friday."

"Reproductions.com. Got to love the name. Saw the article in the Globe last month. Nice exposure for you." He hesitates. "I guess?"

"Not exactly the kind I'm looking for." Just what I need: publicity for pretending to paint someone else's masterpiece. "I tried to get out of the interview, but Repro wouldn't stand for it."

"Are they doing as well as their hype?"

"Probably better," I say, although I'm not really listening and not at ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. At the novel's opening, Claire is a pariah in the art world. Has the community been unfair to her? In what ways, if any, is she responsible for her own exile? Does she share any blame for Isaac Cullion's death?
  2. The Art Forger explores the darker side of human nature. All of the characters in the novel have a price, a line they're willing to cross to further their own ambitions. Do you think Claire does the wrong things for the right reasons? Is she a moral person or not? What about Isabella Stewart Gardener? What compromises would you make to secure what you most desire?
  3. B. A. Shapiro juggles three plot lines in the novel, moving back and forth through time. Each section tells of secrets and deceit. How does each of these storylines...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Ms. Shapiro picked up her pallet and came up with an enthralling picture story of the world of artists, paintings, greed, copying and forging that will keep her readers on the edge of their seats. I loved this book!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Booklist

Classy and pleasurably suspenseful . . . an entrancingly visual, historically rich, deliciously witty, sensuous, and smart tale of authenticity versus fakery in which Shapiro artfully turns a clever caper into a provocative meditation on what we value most.

Publishers Weekly

Filled with delightful twists, turns, and ruminations on what constitutes truth in art.

Library Journal

This well-researched work combines real elements with the understanding that the art world is as fragile and precarious as the art itself, particularly for young hopefuls. A highly recommended debut that would be great for book discussion groups.

Kirkus Reviews

A cleverly plotted art-world thriller/romance . . . . convincingly researched, engaging storytelling. Intelligent entertainment.

Author Blurb Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
Blazingly good. Shapiro drops you where you've never been before, into the whole, crackingly alive world of art galleries, art forgeries, and the unexpected recesses of the human heart. As original as a real Degas, it's also as unforgettable.

Reader Reviews

Becky H

self-fulfillling prophecy run pampant
This book will have you thinking about ALL the times you (or others) are influenced by what you EXPECT rather than what you actually see or hear or experience. Although Shapiro uses real artist’s names and works, the novel is only loosely – very ...   Read More

Louise J

Phenomenal Reading!
The Art Forger is not only entertaining but teaches us about the world of art and for someone like me who knew nothing of the subject when I picked up the book, has really opened my eyes and provided me with a lot of fascinating information that I ...   Read More

Debra V. (Kenosha, WI)

The Art Forger
Loved this book -- a well written look inside the art world from the artist perspective. The technical aspect of art forgery was facinating and was probably the best part of the story for me. Would recommend this book to anyone who loves art as ...   Read More

Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)

Excellent Read
This book came to me as I was plodding through a tedious library book. How great to go from barely-getting-through-it to a book that I almost couldn't put down! Not only does Shapiro offer us a glimpse into the world struggling artists, but we get a ...   Read More

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How Long Does it Take for a Manuscript to Find a Home?

Sometimes, I think, we are under the magical assumption that a writer has an idea, writes a story, then an editor at a publishing house acquires it, and it is published. Four clean, clear steps in a straight forward-moving line.

Sigh. Maybe I should revise that we to an I.

I am a fiction writer. And my process is – well – kind of different from the one above. I get an idea for a story. But then I write part of it, get stuck, cut half of it, write it again, give it to a critique partner to read, take her extensive notes, cut half of it again, then revise what is left. I repeat this part of the process until the story is done. Then my agent sends it out to an editor. I get a rejection. Then another editor, and I get another ...

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