Title: The Art Forger
Author: B. A. Shapiro
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Claire Roth was once a promising young artist, but a scandal blackballed her in the art world, and now she’s resigned to making reproductions of famous artworks for an online dealer. But everything changes when Aiden Markel, a gallery owner, approaches Claire with an offer she can’t refuse. She will forge a painting for him, making it as convincing as the original, and in return, he’ll give her the gallery showing she so desires. But when Claire discovers that the painting she’s supposed to duplicate is one of those stolen in the infamous Gardner museum heist, she’s torn about what she should do.
The Art Forger is one of those novels that has a little bit of everything: adventure, interesting history, personal dilemmas, and incredible character growth. Claire is a wonderful main character. She’s smart and determined, but also has made some bad decisions and run into bad luck. Shapiro does an incredible job balancing Claire’s character; she’s not a victim of her circumstances or of those around her, but neither are her difficult circumstances completely her own fault. It ensures that she is a strong character that readers will root for.
The most interesting aspect of The Art Forger is the amazing amount of detail when it comes to art. From how to create a reproduction of a piece of art (and how that differs from a forgery, as well as what goes into a forgery) to information about the fascinating Gardner Heist and the history of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, Shapiro jam packs details into this novel from beginning to end. It’s never overloaded or too much information; instead, these details serve to flesh out the story and make the novel all the more fascinating.
It’s hard to imagine that a novel about an artist could be thrilling, fascinating, and incredibly suspenseful, but Shapiro managed that with The Art Forger. This is a novel you should only pick up when you have a few hours to curl up with a book because you’ll want to read it cover to cover. The author takes the reader on incredible twists and turns, as Claire tries to navigate the difficult situation she finds herself in. It’s also wonderfully unpredictable, and readers will gasp in shock as new information comes to light at every turn.
This is a novel that has been garnering praise from every corner, and for very good reason: it’s actually that good. This review doesn’t even do justice to how exciting and unexpected this novel is. If you have any interest in the art world whatsoever, The Art Forger should be moved to the top of your must-read list immediately.