Monday, December 10, 2012

THE ART FORGER


Review of THE ART FORGER by B.A. SHAPIRO
(review based on an advance reading copy)

I enjoyed THE ART FORGER throughout, but enjoyment never bloomed into adoration. In terms of strengths, the story has a natural, relatable first person voice that put me in mind of some of my favorite chick lit novels, boasts impressive research, and delivers a fascinating mix of fictional and nonfiction art history as well as an intriguing "what if." All those aspects held my investment even when my inner critic caught something worth nitpicking.

It would be misleading to call THE ART FORGER predictable. I never "guessed" exactly what would happen next, but the word predictable still popped into my mind because I never found myself surprised, even at the most climatic moments or dramatic twists. I also felt mildly disappointed when I reached the end and discovered the two distinct plot threads would not intersect, which led to the realization that the secondary one (her volunteer work with troubled teens) could be carved away without changing the plot. While on that plot thread, I did catch a glaring factual error - not art related; Shapiro’s art research seems meticulous, though I'm no expert - that distracted me all the way to the end with wondering, "Mistake? Foreshadowing?” I don't consider it a spoiler to specify: Claire mentions that she's never been fingerprinted, but she could never volunteer with minors, let alone such troubled minors, without being fingerprinted. That detail being outright stated led me down an incorrect path that this inaccuracy would somehow play into the plot, but it appears to be a simple error. My last distraction concerns the romances. The book involves a present romance and a past one that informs the story. Unfortunately, in both cases I couldn't understand why Claire's attracted to these men. In regards to the past one, we only see glimpses of the end of the relationship, which means we only see the bad and not the good that sparked the affair in the first place. As for the present romance, the guy's a typical closed off alpha male who shares none of his thoughts or emotions, leaving Claire and the reader to interpret or project their own analysis of his motivations without any confirmation. In general, though, I found all the characters other than Claire "painted in broader strokes."

Nevertheless, despite noting these criticisms, my attention never waned in the story. The themes kept me reading more than anything else. In particular, I found myself fascinated by the musing that many masterpieces could be forgeries so skillfully done that they fool the so-called experts and also drawn in by the injustices in Claire's life and her response. THE ART FORGER may not be groundbreaking, but it's certainly a worthwhile read.

No comments:

Post a Comment