On 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.
First of all, I am really excited about this review. This is my first month working with SheReads.org and I am already loving it. I picked a great month to start because this is a phenomenal book.
When it comes to the book, I know absolutely nothing about art. At first I was concerned that I would be lost and it would be totally over my head because I don’t know the techniques or terms, but after a while, I felt like I could go out and paint a masterpiece. Kidding. My art skills are worse than a two-year-old’s art skills. But Shapiro painted a masterpiece of her own with this novel. I also have never been to the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, but I’ve done some reading and found that Shapiro mixed fiction with fact for this book, so for those who are familiar with it, you may have a hard time separating the two. There really was a heist at the museum and works by Degas were stolen. I always appreciate coming away from a novel and feeling like I walk with away more knowledge than when I started.
I loved that this book was told through Isabelle’s past, Claire’s past and the present. I am always a fan of a book that uses many different times to tell a story.
I also loved the ethical decision that Claire was faced with in this story. Not that I would face one similar, but being a journalist, we are often faced with decisions that we have to determine if we would get sued or in trouble for making. So I was able to understand Claire’s tough time deciding to or not to paint this masterpiece. And let’s not forget her amateur sleuth skills. I think that most of us would admit that if it came down to it, and there was something that could put us or a loved one in jail, we would do all the investigating we could to get our names cleared. Claire didn’t do anything monumental to make it unbelievable, but did just enough to uncover history and get herself in the clear.
I have read several other reviews on The Art Forger and am glad to see that I wasn’t the only one staying up way past my bedtime to finish this book. If you love art, I think you will love this book. But even if you have no knowledge of art past paint by numbers (like myself), it is still one that you won’t be able to put down.
I give The Art Forger 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Check out SheReads.org to read other reviews of this book. They are also giving away 10 copies of The Art Forger. Sign up by Wednesday to win a copy and take part of the book club discussion on February 1.