Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Art Forger

14568987On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth 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.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Claire Roth is a master at copying the Masters of the art world. In The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro, Claire moves from blacklisted copier with empty claims to a forger who finds herself caught in the aftereffects of an art heist. For lovers of mystery and impressionists, this novel is incredible. 

Claire is a broke artist semi-happily working for a website called that sells copies of famous paintings. As a certified Degas copier, she is the perfect accomplice when trying to reproduce a masterpiece that was stolen years before. Claire is a hopeful romantic with the perfect eye for detail. She's passionate, intelligent, driven, and methodical. Readers will enjoy her situational blunders and her wariness when it comes to the truth. They will connect with her through her passion and past. Though not a lot of her past is explored, the story behind her blacklist status in the art world is shared piece by piece. When she jumps at the chance to have her own gallery show, readers understand why she would gamble everything,even if they disagree morally and/or legally. When she falls in love with the man who hired her, readers may think it's naive, I did, but they hope for her happiness anyway. And when it hits the fan, readers respect her honesty, even if it's with a slight head shake that says "I knew this was going to happen..." 

The plot begins with Claire being offered an opportunity to make fifty thousand dollars by simply copying a Degas masterpiece that was stolen in a museum heist. It has to pass authentication by experts so that it can be sold under the radar as the original. She is given a copy to work from but she quickly learns that the one she is given is the original. Or so it seems. As Claire works, she begins to think that the original is actually a forgery, but she keeps the information to herself and hopes she is wrong. Readers can see where this is going and it definitely involves the FBI and the Boston PD. The story is incredibly pieced together. I absolutely loved every chapter. And I think most other readers will too. For art lovers, I admit that I am a HUGE impressionist and Degas fan, the techniques and painting descriptions, as well as the research and the play with historical facts, is delectable. The ending didn't exactly give me the greatest satisfaction but with everything that happened, I feel it was the only way. There can't be a happy ending for everyone... 

Rating: 4.5/5 Cups

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