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Reality Closes the Book

March 29, 2013

The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro, has received some great reviews. I totally agree. It is loosely based around an actual event. On March 18, 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts was robbed by thieves disguised as police officers. Thirteen paintings, including masterpieces by Manet, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, were stolen.

Shapiro introduces Claire Roth, an artist with much talent, and ties her to the real life art heist. Claire has a past gradually revealed, which makes her a pariah in the art world. She earns her living making copies of paintings, employed by an online company to paint "perfect replicas."

The plot pulled me in right from the start. Claire’s fall from grace is the backdrop for her involvement in creating a forgery good enough to be passed off as an original. There are consequences, of course. But there’s also redemption.

To make a reproduction of an old painting involves many steps. Shapiro intersperses some of these throughout the book. Creating original works of art is also a process that Shapiro explores. In no way am I an artist; my talent peaked at finger painting. So, to enhance my "cultural experience," I listened to music while I read. Fifty Shades of Grey, The Classical Album was a good fit. The CD is available for checkout, and the title, which really doesn’t have anything to do with the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, piqued my interest. Because The Art Forger also involves a quest, I added another CD in the Library’s collection: The Lord of the Rings Symphony. I highly recommend both CDs.

Now for the part where fiction and reality meet: On March 18, 2013, Twenty-three years after the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum was robbed, the FBI announced it had identified the thieves. The FBI set up a website where a $5 million reward is being offered for the recovery of the stolen paintings.

Could it be that The Art Forger contributed to solving this case?

~Bev F.
Parkville Branch

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