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The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel

Написано Dominic Smith

Озвучено Edoardo Ballerini


The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel

Написано Dominic Smith

Озвучено Edoardo Ballerini

оценки:
4/5 (23 оценки)
Длина:
9 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 5, 2016
ISBN:
9781427268266
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

A masterful new story charts the circuitous course of the sole surviving work of a female Dutch painter.

This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the audio's done.

In his award-winning earlier novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.

In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain — a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive.

As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.

This audio-book includes a reading group guide read by the author.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 5, 2016
ISBN:
9781427268266
Формат:
Аудиокнига


Об авторе

Dominic Smith grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Austin, Texas. He holds an MFA in writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly. His awards include the Dobie Paisano Fellowship from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize, and the Gulf Coast Fiction Prize. In 2006, his debut novel The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre received the Steven Turner Prize for First Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. Dominic serves on the fiction faculty in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and has taught recently at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University. Find out more at www.dominicsmith.net.

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  • (5/5)
    Happy New Year and cheers to the first post of 2017! (I’m supposed to be publishing every week, so if you catch me slacking, please call me out!) I’m not big on resolutions since I am the queen of inconsistent but I did map out a general plan for the year concerning travel (my husband laughed at my ideas for this one and said to think smaller), business moves, and various gatherings and expected major expenses. I feel a little more like an adult now. I also resolved to get my toddler to bed before 11pm. (You think I jest.) So far, so good, although my little man knocking out at 8pm inevitably means a 5am sleep-eating marathon.Was one of your resolutions to read more? How about to read better books? I can’t say that every novel I read in 2016 was a winner. I even selected and fought for a few book club selections which, upon completion, I was thoroughly embarrassed by. Oops. But such is the life of a reader and as with many things in life, we need the bad to help us appreciate how truly beautiful the good ones are. Case in point: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. After suffering through Alice Adam’s Invincible Summer (my pick, sorry book club members), I was quite smitten with this work. Boasting not one, not two, but three protagonists, the story playfully unfolds, one layer at a time (like varnish on a painting). Typically, I am irritated with time-jumping within a narrative so one could safely assume that I would be downright enraged with three time-traveling narratives. And yet I was not. In fact, Smith’s characters are artfully crafted, I found myself looking forward to catching glimpses into their pasts while attempting to predict the way the separate threads would finally weave together. Smith opens his story with Marty de Groot, an idealistic silver-spooner, who is the unsuspecting victim of a secret art heist. While on a mission to track down his family heirloom, Marty’s story steps aside to allow the back story of Sara de Vos, 17th century painter, to come to life. Even more interesting than this sub-plot, is the third narrative, that of Ellie Shipley, the graduate student commissioned to duplicate Marty’s priceless painting. Smith toys with discussion of artistic value (such as the value or lack of concerning a forgery), impact of class structure on artistic perspective, and gender bias. Marty, Ellie, and Sara though from very different worlds all share an unexplainable connection with painting and all seek redemption from an element of their past they wish they could “paint over”. Despite being a card-carrying feminist, I found myself rooting for Marty. Admittedly, some of his action throughout the work are cowardly, even disgusting. Yet, I found him to be a hopeless romantic of sorts and couldn’t help but appreciate his optimism and self-deprecating humor in spite of his glaring faults. Out of the three intertwined stories, I found his to be the most interesting and “honest”, if you will. (This opinion was far from unanimous at book club, mind you.) The Last Painting of Sara de Vos left me feeling the way a book should: equal parts wistful and inspired. I highly recommend it and plan to check out Dominic Smith’s other major works. As with the characters previously discussed, I too am seeking redemption with our first book club pick of 2017, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed, a re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Wish me luck! If you’re looking to get into some good literature in 2017, here’s a list of our former book club selections as well as my 1-5 star recommendation for each:2016December- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith- 5/5 starsNovember- Mothering Sunday: A Romance by Graham Swift- 4/5 starsOctober- Invincible Summer by Alice Adams- 2/5 starsSeptember- Film Adaptation of The Light Between Oceans- 4/5 starsAugust- (Off for Travel)July- I Let You Go by Clare MackintoshJune- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- 5/5 starsMay- The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman- 5/5 starsApril- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- 3/5 starsMarch- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff- 3/5 starsFebruary- Descent by Tim Johnston- 3/5 stars
  • (4/5)
    The world of art forgery is fascinating - interesting characters in this novel. Not sure that the apology after 40 years should have been accepted !
  • (4/5)
    A young Australian art restorer takes on a commission in New York. It gets complicated. The story veers easily between New York 1958, Holland 1638 and Sydney 2000. A story of a painting and an artist. Of guilt. Of loss. Of monied New York. Of the sniping in the art world both Olde and New. Of how complicated relationships can be.
  • (5/5)
    This was one of my favorite books this year. I saw the author at a local book festival (with his amazing editor/publisher Sarah Crichton) and decided this was a book I had to read. As an aspiring writer, this book made my head swirl. Not only is the story complex, covering 3 time/place periods seamlessly, but the writing is beautiful with each word contributing to the whole. I'll read read this a few more times as I study the art that Mr. Smith has created in this beautiful book.
  • (5/5)
    interesting characters, timeline stories, interesting details about forgery and art repair, 17th C Netherlands painting guilds (Who knew)? Reminded me of the Goldfinch, but wasn't so terribly frustrating!
  • (4/5)
    This is a bok for art fans and historical fiction fans. The story is told in three different times about three differnt characters. It is part mystery about a crime, but in the end we discover much more. This is a mystery of the heart.
  • (4/5)
    Nice book. Enjoyed the flow.
  • (4/5)
    Fairly enjoyable story but I felt the writing was too passive and descriptive. The author would describe the conversation more often than just let the characters speak or even think. Therefore it was hard to really get to know the characters or sympathize with them well. I also found the plot to be lacking in momentum. Even though there was a mystery about how the forgery would come to light, i didn't feel there to be enough crescendo leading up to the reveal (maybe again because I didn't care for the characters very much. Though I enjoyed reading about the painter, the rest of the book seemed rather ho-hum
  • (4/5)
    Well written and engrossing, this novel follows a painting done in the 17th century by a Dutch woman artist through time, theft and imitation.
  • (4/5)
    An enjoyable story across three time periods - each of them interesting. I loved how it ended.
  • (4/5)
    A female Dutch painter Sara De Vos paints "at the edge of the Wood" in 1631. In 1957 Ellie Shipley , an art students copies it. Marty de Groot has the painting in his family for many years only to discover one day that it is a copy.. He decides to find the forger himself.This is a great premise for a novel and this is a great read.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting novel about a woman who works as an art restorer and somehow gets drawn into a forgery project. The story goes back and forth in time between the 1600s, when the original painter was alive, the 1950s, when the forgery happened, and the year 2000, when all the pieces of the story come together in Australia. The author does this very well, so as a reader I didn't really have whiplash. An excellent character-driven story with some attention to the craft of art and how to paint emotions.
  • (4/5)
    Beautifully written and complex in its construction, this novel is packed with interesting details about how to forge paintings of the Dutch School. While definitely intellectually engaging, what the novel lacks is an emotional quality that makes the reader care about the people. As a result, "Sara de Vos" falls short of being a great novel. This is a book that ranges over time, geography, and questions of morality. Perhaps as a result of its epic ambition it falls short of landing anywhere sufficiently to give readers a sense of "being there." So, it's difficult to sink into the story, which in its parallel plot structure possibly jumps around too much. In the midst of "trying" to be too many novels this one probably flew too close to the sun.I enjoyed the novel in a mostly didactic sense but am afraid I won't find it memorable as a story or moving experience. However, I can recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, intellectual mysteries, and psychological intrigue, especially if they want to learn some arcana concerning the construction of oil paintings.
  • (3/5)
    So why only three stars?
    This book is close to flawless, and has some beautiful writing. The evocation of the three different time periods is excellent, though I felt most convinced by the seventeenth century scenes. There are some exquisite insights into life, love, pain and art, but the 20th century plot completely threw me out of my enjoyment.
    What happened? Sara's painting is bought at a clearing sale after her husband abandons her to their debts. It is bought by Piet de Grootin the 1600s. Marty de Groot, the painting's 20th century owner, realises that he's been duped after thieves substitute a forgery in the painting's place. With limitless riches, he's able to hire help to find the forger - Australian Ellie. Instead of reporting her to police, he embarks on a devious course of revenge - to dupe Ellie in her turn that he is a wealthy widower in love with her. So far, OK, and I had quite liked Marty and the tender relationship he had with his childless wife.
    Then, unaccountably, he lures Ellie into a weekend away at a small hotel, and takes his time over the most godless sex I've ever read. No joy or sweetness or even great desire. Strange - and then he leaves, his revenge complete, after what amounts to a gratuitous rape (having intercourse with someone while pretending to be someone else? what would you call it?). His revenge would have been complete had he just abandoned Ellie in the hotel, leaving her to discover the returned forgery on her own. Totally revolting. Changed my view of Marty, and nearly made me stop reading!
    Forty years later, Marty and Ellie meet again at an art show, where both the forgery and the genuine painting are briefly in the same place at the same time. Marty explains his conduct 40 years before as the result of his having fallen in love with Ellie while trying to wreak revenge on her. Hmm, strange kind of love, mate - do you mean lust? Marty regains some dignity by making all right for Ellie and not unmasking her from her successful career (he still has buckets of money to throw around), but I find myself still very resentful that his selfish 'taking of her virginity' as it is phrased is allowed to pass as if it was nothing.
    I had to read on because I wanted to find out what happened to Sara, and I was not at all disappointed by these sections of the book. They are lovely, and I found Sara and her new husband Tomas the most likeable characters in the book.
    I confess I'm a bit disappointed. I began this book with very high expectations, and these were realised well into the book, but then there was this sudden twist of surprising rape. It may not strike other readers so strongly, and the book is very worth reading for its other diamonds of expression and philosophy.
  • (4/5)
    The eponymous artist was the first female member of the Dutch artist guild in the 17th century. The novel tells the story of the painting through three time periods. The first begins in Amsterdam 1637 after Sara, who has recently lost her daughter, has been suspended from the guild for selling paintings outside of the guild's purview. The novel's second period is NYC 1957. The painting, which has been in Marty de Groot's family for 300 years, has been stolen replaced with a faked copy. During the investigation of the theft, the married Marty becomes enamored with a 20 years his junior, Ellie Shipley, art historian, restorer and forger.The third time period is Sydney 2000 when Marty and Ellie are reacquainted after she receives the painting (and the forgery) for a museum expedition. I'm not sure whether or not it the cold I had when I first began reading this book but I had a difficult time getting into it. For almost half the book, I toyed putting it down unfinished. However, it became engaging as I read the interweaving stories and I was glad I stuck with it.
  • (5/5)
    This is the book I recommend when someone asks for a Historic Fiction novel. Set during 3 time periods, the Dutch Renaissance, NYC in the 1950's, and the present, it explores the lives of a female Dutch artist and a modern day art historian. It was fascinating to read about the craft of Dutch landscape painting as well as the technique and finesse used to counterfeit a Dutch masterpiece. It was equally interesting to compare the roles of women in art both in the past and today. Excellent story that was captivating and informative!
  • (5/5)
    I'm a sucker for novels linking the past and present, especially when there is some real, touchable object to connect the two. Call it Red Violin Syndrome. This novel is about one of the few women who painted in Holland during its golden years of painters. Also forgery, art restoration, Australia, Amsterdam, the plague, and bloody blisters-- so, yay.
  • (3/5)
    I got a little over half way through this book when I realized that I didn't really care about any of the characters, and had no real interest in finding out what happens to them or how the story played out. So I quit reading it. I later read several reviews and was able to piece together what happens, which confirmed that I made a good decision.
  • (4/5)
    The book begins in 17th century Amsterdam where painter Sara de Vos paints a landscape she titles At the Edge of the Wood. Centuries later the painting will greatly affect the lives of a wealthy collector and a student restorer who illegally copies it. Although well written I was disappointed that I didn't find the contemporary characters believable. Even so, I liked the book though not to the extent I expected.
  • (5/5)
    A historical novel revolving between the 17th century (time of Sara De Vos life), the 1950's NYC and 2000 Australia (times of art restorer/painter Ellie Shipley and Marty de Groot, the owner of a painting by Sara de Vos). The author segues between time periods, expertly weaving the three eras together and creating three wonderful characters in the telling. I loved the end of their stories.
  • (4/5)
    This book ranges from the world of a female Dutch painter (Sara de Vos) in the 1600s to the U.S. in the 1950s (the man who owns the only known painting done by de Vos and a young female art historian/restorer/forger) to the year 2000 in Australia where all of these characters come together, and finally back to Holland for the final denouement. The author writes in such an evocative and atmospheric manner that it is easy to picture the surroundings and feel like you're right there. The book is beautifully and elegantly written. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Set in the 1600's in the Netherlands, the 1950's in Brooklyn, and contemporary times in Australia, this is the story of an art forgery and the woman who painted the original and the forgery. Sara de Vos was the wife of a painter in the guild in Amsterdam who found himself on hard times. Sara was also an artist but as a woman was unable to sell her art as such. When her husband left her, she found herself painting for a man to clear the husband's debts. In the 1950's Eleanor was a struggling art student specializing in women artists of the time of Rembrandt. She paints a forgery of a privately held painting thinking she will never see the person or the original again. When the owner of the painting discovers that a fake has replaced the original over the bed in his home, he hires a private detective to find the forger. Things get more complicated when he meets Eleanor and sets her up for a terrible revenge. Years later, Eleanor is a curator of a museum in Australia which is doing a collection of Dutch painting; the original and the fake show up. A good mystery and much about the art world. Well written, descriptive, and believable.
  • (5/5)
    This is a wonderful story that takes place over three time periods and places: 1630s near Amsterdam, 1957 Manhattan/Brooklyn, and 2000 Sydney.Sara de Vos was a landscape living near Amsterdam in the 1630s. Her painting of a winter scene with children skating ends up in the possession of wealthy Manhattan lawyer Marty de Gruyt. The painting had been in his family’s possession for several generations. One day he realizes that the painting which has hung over his bed for years has been replaced with a fake.Ellie Shipley is an Australian native, studying in New York City during the 1950s. She is an Arts student who happens to have a talent for painting. She earns cash on the side by cleaning and restoring old masters for wealthy clients in Manhattan. She is asked by a shifty gallery owner to forge a copy of the De Vos painting.The three characters and the three settings provide a wonderful story about the arts, in particular Dutch women painters of the Golden Age. It is also a mini detective story as Marty de Gruyt tracks down the forger and lays a fascinating trap for her. Wonderful descriptions and stories about all of the characters.Highly recommended
  • (4/5)
    Sara de Vos, a painter from the golden age of Dutch art, the 1600, Ellie Shipley, an artist and forger, in New York, 1957, a university professor and curator in 2000 in Sydney and Marty de Groot, New York lawyer and caretaker of a family art collector are the major characters of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos which moves from Holland in 628-31 to Sydney in 2000. Ellie Shipley is curating a show of the female artists of the Dutch Golden age at a Sydney art gallery in 2000. An art gallery in Holland has lent “Girl at the Edge of the Wood,” believed to be de Vos’ last painting. An American collector, de Groot, is also lending the same painting to the gallery. Shipley is about to be faced with the step out of bounds she committed in 1957 when, following a theft at the de Groot home, she make a copy from the original painting.The plot is intriguing. It reads like a mystery, how will she be found out and what will happen to her. Is it really de Vos’s last painting? What happens to de Vos? I recently started to paint and I appreciate the part that is an art lesson in light. How it creates shadows in the snow, in the folds of drapes, how to determine where it will come from. It has a lesson in how to create a forgery from aging the canvas to how paints were mixed by de Vos and then by Shipley to create the same aging effect. It also moves back and forth in the time periods and characters well.Reviewed 2018-1-15⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • (5/5)
    I listened to this book in audiobook format, unabridged. About halfway through, though, I did something I rarely do: I borrowed a hard copy from the library as well, as there were parts I wanted to look back at and that is the one thing that is not easy to do with an audiobook. This proved to be a good decision.This is almost time travel story. In 1631, Sara de Vos is the wife of a landscape painter, and is a talented painter in her own right, the first woman admitted to Amsterdam's Guild of master painters. Although women usually only paint indoor still lifes, Sara is mesmerized by a scene she has witnessed of a lone girl standing beside the river, watching skaters at dusk, and decided to paint it. After the sudden death of their young daughter, the life that Sara and her husband lead begins to unravel and eventually, comes apart. The painting, however, survives. Fast forward to the 1950s, where a wealthy New York lawyer, Marty de Groot, has owned the painting that has been in family for generations. It hangs over his bed until one day, he suddenly discovers that it has been replaced by a forged copy. The mystery of how or even when, this happened, or where the original might be, obsesses him and he hires a private detective to try to find out. The events that lead him to the truth haunt him in ways that he could not have expected. It isn't until the year 2000 that the circle closes, that the forger and Marty make peace. Throughout the book, the chapters alternate between Sara's story and Marty's story (as well as Ellie --  the forger's -- story). I have to say, the reader of this audiobook, Edoardo Ballerini, is excellent. His voice is quiet, understated but eloquent and he is masterful at accents and giving voice to the characters. But most of all, the writing is beautiful. I want to include just 2 short excerpts here, from the very end of the book, as a sample:  "The cold air burns her cheeks as she skates along, pushing into long glides, her hands behind her back, the sound of her skate blades like the sharpening of a knife on a whetstone. She wants to skate for miles, to fall until midnight into this bracing pleasure. The bare trees glitter with ice along the riverbank, a complement to the inking stars. The night feels unpeeled, as if she's burrowed into its flesh. Here is the bone and armature, the trees holding up the sky like the ribs of a ship, the ice hardening the river into a mirror too dull to see the sky's full reflection. Everything flits by except the sky and her thoughts, both of which seem to widen and gyre in a loose, clockwise procession...Everything is strung together on the line of her skates, swooping curves and perfect delineations of her wistful thinking. She is light upon the ice, a weightless passenger."  "Every work is a depiction and a lie. We rearrange the living, exaggerate the light, intimate dusk when it's really noonday sun..."
  • (2/5)
    I liked the concept of this book; fraud, stolen art, and a sort of innocent accomplice. This all seemed very interesting. Plus, I really like that the story goes from each time period in burst; very interesting. However, I gave this book a low review because I thought the story was a little dry. It had potential but I thought the author went way too much into how the painting was physically; i.e. the taste, the smell, the feeling, etc. It was a bit much for me. Also, the story never seemed to get rolling. The ‘action’ was minimal. All this said, however, I do believe that to the right reader this book would be great, that just was not me.Thanks to Goodreads via Giveaway and the Author for the copy.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this—an interesting and sensitive interpersonal setup, satisfying writing about art-making, and Smith does a really great job of setting a scene and a space without hammering his descriptions to death. He has a lovely light touch on the visuals, which really makes the difference in a story with multiple settings and a big dose of ekphrasis. A very pleasing read all the way through.
  • (4/5)
    This is a beautiful story about a female Dutch painter in the 17th century. Married to a painter who has fallen into disgrace the family is thrown into poverty. The death of their only daughter and the realization that she is stuck with her husband’s unpaid bills makes Sara take the offer to paint a village far away from Amsterdam. This commission turns into a blessing because along with her landscape painting she finds real happiness. The story is actually two stories. The other story set in the 1950’s is a young art student, Ellie, who creates a forgery of Sara de Vos’ only known painting and how this forgery haunts her, right up to the end as she recovers the real painting. If you are a fan of The Girl with the Pearl Earring you will enjoy this book.
  • (4/5)
    1600s, Holland, Sara is the first woman admitted to the artist's guild. Her husband was a painter of landscapes, but at that time woman were expected to paint only still life's. After a terrible tragedy changes the fabric of their family, Sara paints a landscape. This painting will affect the fortunes of others down the centuries.Late 1950's Ellie Shipley is a young woman working on her thesis of Dutch woman painters, she is also working as a cleaner and restorer. She is asked to do something that will come back to haunt her in the near future and culminate in a near disaster decades later.Martin de Groot, inherited wealth also the owner of several Dutch paintings done by woman and passed down in his family from generation to generation. A discovery he makes will have a profound effect on himself and Ellie.Like a finished painting all these layers will come together in a final, touching and brilliant uncovering.Wonderful story, fantastic prose, descriptive, impassioned, even the alternating storylines are used to draw the reader in, heading for a amazing dénouement. Learned so much about art, forgeries, the art world on general and the life of women painters in early times. The character of Sara is actually a composite of all early women Dutch painters, as the author so nicely explains. Shows how one decision can effect our lives in unexpected ways. For me this book was absolutely brilliant.ARC from Netgalley.
  • (5/5)
    In THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS, Dominic Smith has created a marvelous triptych that cleverly explores themes of feminism, deceit, betrayal and forgiveness. The first panel is set in Amsterdam during the 1630’s. Sara De Vos and her husband are talented painters who have been suspended from the Guild of St. Luke for selling their work outside the control of the union, thus losing their livelihood. During that period, women could only paint still-lives—tulips were all the rage. Sara does a landscape—“ At the Edge of a Wood”— expressing her grief at the death of her young daughter, Kathrijn. There is a clever twist to this painting that is only revealed at the end of the novel.The second panel occurs in 1950’s Manhattan. Marty de Groot, a wealthy patent attorney, has inherited Sara’s landscape, which he thinks has been a jinx for his family. When he discovers that his painting has been switched with a clever forgery, he goes in search of the thief, but only finds the forger. Ellie Shipley is a struggling graduate student who has agreed to forge the painting. Although complicit, she knows little about the actual theft. DeGroot plays a game of deceit and betrayal with Ellie that seems to be more about retribution than an honest attempt to actually retrieve his stolen property.The setting for the final panel is Sydney in 2000. Ellie is now a successful art historian and DeGroot is an octogenarian widower. They meet after a 40-year hiatus because DeGroot has unresolved guilt feelings about how he treated Ellie. He personally brings the recovered De Vos landscape to an exhibit of female Dutch painters that Ellie is curating in Australia. A problem arises when the forgery, masquerading as the original, also arrives from a Dutch museum. If she confesses to being the forger, her career will undoubtedly be destroyed. The plotting is wonderfully complex; the outcome is satisfying; the main characters are well developed and nuanced; and the details about art forgery and 17th century female Dutch painters provide a deft narrative and an agreeable read.