Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"There was so much true history and the fiction seemed so plausible, I found it impossible to put down." ~Miki

B.A. Shapiro, who lives and writes in Boston, has created a wonderful story that revolves around one of the most stunning gems in the City of Boston. The Art Forger brings a lot of focus on the history and lore of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In 1990, Boston had a totally different kind of shock when the museum was broken into and many of its treasures and masterpieces were stolen. Still today, 23 years later, none of the pieces have been recovered.

This museum and its story was a big highlight during my trip to Massachusetts many years ago. Somehow, Shapiro found a way to weave this very real history into two other riveting stories. The first story is that of Belle, the creator and collector for the museum. Belle is a notorious character in Boston’s history and also in the art world. During her lifetime, she caused the rumor mill to work at full throttle, she paved roads for women, and she made no apologies for her behavior. She was an unstoppable force and many found her hard to handle. She was not only “wild”, but she was also passionate. Her biggest passion was for art (and many say sex was a close second).

Belle’s desire for beautiful art took her to many countries and gave her a life full of exciting people, steamy affairs, and created one of the best private art collections in America. This collection and the fascinating story behind it are how Shapiro introduces us to Claire.

Claire is the other woman in this story and the main focus of the fictional part of the novel. Claire is a painter who has fallen in love and by a rare circumstance been destroyed in many ways by this love. Her reputation in the art world is in shambles, her guilt controls her entire life, and her job is not exactly what she planned on doing when she went to art school.

These three stories all collide when Claire is given the deal of a lifetime. Although the deal seems too good to be true, it could change her life and change her reputation. This deal could also give her the opportunity to show the world her own art. What Claire doesn’t realize is that taking this deal will also create some strong parallels between her past mistakes and her current endeavors. This novel was so fascinating. I enjoyed every page. There was so much true history and the fiction seemed so plausible, I found it impossible to put down.


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