The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

jacket image for The Art ForgerThe Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
Published by Algonquin Books, an imprint of Workman
Review copy provided by She Reads book club

Claire Roth is a struggling artist who makes her living reproducing famous masterpieces for an online retailer. When Aiden Markel, a local gallery owner, comes to her with the request to reproduce one of the original Degas masterpieces stolen in the famous museum heist in 1990 in exchange for her own show at his gallery, she can’t refuse. But when the painting arrives at her studio, Claire begins to suspect that this painting itself could be a forgery, and this discovery entangles her in a web of crime with incredibly long ties in history – and she has no idea what she’s stumbled into.

Let me begin by saying that I know absolutely nothing about art, and not only that but I’m not even really interested in art. I’ll look at a piece of art and think “hmm, that looks pretty” and truthfully, that’s about the extent of my interest. So I was a little concerned going into this book that I wouldn’t “get” it, it wouldn’t resonate with me, and simply that I just wouldn’t like it. Happily, none of those things happened – I truly enjoyed the ride Shapiro took me on here and the fact that I am not an art person did not hinder me one bit!

One thing I really enjoyed about this novel is that Shapiro gave the reader snippets of information about the time, three years before the book takes place, when Claire was involved in another situation with a famous artist and there ended up being scandal attached to her name because of it. There’s also a few letters from the late Isabelle Gardner (of the Gardner museum, where the 1990 heist took place) to her niece, Amelia, that hint at the heart of the mystery Claire is trying to solve. These dual narratives added complexity to the story and really kept me on my toes, turning pages anxious to find out how these three stories would all come together.

I have to say that while I enjoyed most things about this book, and I liked Claire as a character, I didn’t feel particularly close to any of the characters. I’m totally okay with this as, for me at least, this book was much more about the plot and the mystery than about the characters, but it’s definitely something to note. I felt that Shapiro created interesting, complex characters, I just didn’t particularly feel connected to them. But that could just be me, after all I said before that I am not into art, and Claire and I are such drastically different peopleĀ I wouldn’t be able to connect to her in real life, I’m sure, so why should in fiction be any different?

But that aside, I really did enjoy this book. The Art Forger kept me on my toes, it took me on a ride I wasn’t expecting, and I couldn’t put it down. I truly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend this novel!