CapRadio Reads

CapRadio Reads is a book club and online reading community, hosted by Capital Public Radio. Moderator Vicki Lorini and host Donna Apidone encourage you to participate in person or on the website.

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The Art Forger

September 2014 book selection

The Art Forger

by B.A. Shapiro

September 3, 2014 | Vicki Lorini

Some people feel there is really only one story to tell, and it is told over and over again. Does this theory make our September book, The Art Forger, a forgery?

Many writing classes start by explaining this theory of the same story, over and over again. What start as a portrait of a character, only turns into a story when something happens to affect change in that character, for good or bad. If this is indeed true, then what was it that happened to Claire to upset her life so? Was it her relationships or the forgery, or her own instincts to answer the questions about the forgery? In terms of writing, was Ms. Shapiro able to inspire you enough to believe Claire? Do you feel this book is about the art heist and Isabella Stewart Gardner, or about a forgery.

While reading The Art Forger, I will admit to scanning the web often to find out which parts were real. For me, as a curious reader, this was important in my enjoyment of the book. How do you feel about it? Will you be joining us, Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30 in our Community Room to participate in our conversation? Hope to see you there.

August 27, 2014 | Vicki Lorini

Fascinating as it is, the world of highly expensive art is also a mind game. We can speak of forgeries, such as After The Bath ll, as art and an artistic copy. What is the difference, if the technique applied is the same? Is the imagination of the original artist what makes the real difference? Was it how Degas viewed his models, and what he "thought" they were, that made it possible to create the original masterpiece?

In The Art Forger, Claire awaits word on the ramifications of the discovery of her forged painting on a ship bound for India, while she paints pictures for an upcoming exhibition. The forgery she painted is a classical painting, done in a modern way, using modern techniques. The copy is beautiful. Perfect. Her new paintings, all modern and extremely edgy, are not initially received well. After a time, and with more promotion, her work becomes very popular.

All this leads me to wonder how a painting is valued. As we know, Vincent Van Gogh couldn't give his pictures away, and the same has been true of many of the world's great artists during their lifetimes. Does an artist's life, or death, make a picture more beautiful or just more interesting?

I have just asked many questions, and as we read The Art Forger, I'll bet you will have many more to add to these. The answers, if there are any, will be discussed at our face-to-face meeting, Tuesday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to sign up for a space at the table. See you then. 

August 20, 2014 | Vicki Lorini

We are off and running with another book about the arts. The Art Forger is a very well-written novel about a very real art heist. In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, thieves, dressed as policemen, made off with over $500 million dollars worth of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston.

In our book, Claire Roth, a struggling young artist with her own rather shaky history in the art world, is about to discover some unpleasant truths about this robbery, and maybe about the original founder of the museum.

The novel itself has attracted the attention of many in the art world, and part of its allure is how it brings that world to us. Like many novels, this one gives us an easy, if not entirely accurate, glimpse into a world not our own. I hope you are enjoying it so far.

While you are busy enjoying this book, let me tell you about a few others your fellow readers have found interesting. At the close of our Face to Face meeting last month, we got to discussing books we had recently read and enjoyed. I am happy to share them here with you as I really think one of the greatest things about belonging to a book club is the wealth of knowledge the other readers bring to the table.

The first title is a nonfiction work about the same robbery. It's The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser. Other books our readers loved include The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and The Hammer of Eden by Ken Follet. I Promise Not To Suffer, by Gail Storey, is about a husband and wife who decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Part of it takes place in Sacramento.

So, until our Face to Face to talk about The Art Forger, on Tuesday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m., I will say,

Thanks for reading.

August 13, 2014 | Vicki Lorini

With our September selection, we get closer to the current art scene, but we remain in the world of art and criminals.

The Art Forger, which was on the NPR bestseller list for 28 weeks, is a fictional account of what might have happened to one of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Among the pictures stolen that day (by two thieves dressed as policemen) was a painting by our old friend, Edgar Degas. The scandal involving the theft, the possible link between Isabella Gardner and Degas, and the current scandals in the art world make for a great read and, I'm sure, a great conversation.

What are the acceptable limits of attribution? Are artistic copies actually always forgeries? Who was Isabella Gardner, and how did she come to own one of the most incredible art collections of all time?

Please join us for the next face-to-face book review meeting on Tuesday, September 9th, find out if there really are answers to all these questions.