Monday, December 27, 2010

An Object of Beauty : a review

I have Christmas-related information to post, including pictures of a sweater I knitted, but cannot find the card reader that will enable me to share those photos with you. So stay tuned, and enjoy this book review in the meantime!

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (2010)

Martin’s latest novel takes us into the world of art collecting with all its accompanying competitiveness and intrigue. Lacey Yeager is the star of this show and we first meet her at Sotheby’s and then follow her career trajectory, and her love life, for several years. Lacey is smart, savvy, and calculating and uses everything she’s got to get ahead. The setting of this book was completely new to me as I know little about the art world, but Martin has woven in fascinating details about art auctions, theft – especially the Gardner heist – as well as economic and stylistic trends. His quirky characters added personality to the already interesting story.

As a reader, I felt more like I was following Lacey around rather than residing inside her head, similar to the narrative style I noticed in Shopgirl. Martin keeps the reader a bit distant from the main character, but somehow it also increases the feeling of loneliness that surrounds the character. In fact, I never really got a sense of what Lacey wanted in her life, aside from career success. Many men passed through and she seemed to not care at all about them except when she wanted sex but it’s difficult to imagine that she really had so little desire for any kind of relationship. But as I mentioned, we don’t really know what was going on in her head. Nevertheless, this wasn’t a book about relationships it was about one woman’s career in art and it was a fresh and unusual story, well written and very readable. As an added bonus, the novel includes color photos of art works – a fantastic touch!

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