Richly drawn and sharply observed, A Nearly Perfect Copy is a smart and affecting novel of family and forgery set amidst the rarefied international art world.
Elm Howells has a loving family and a distinguished career at an elite Manhattan auction house. But after a tragic loss throws her into an emotional crisis, she pursues a reckless course of action that jeopardizes her personal and professional success. Meanwhile, talented artist Gabriel Connois wearies of remaining at the margins of the capricious Parisian art scene, and, desperate for recognition, he embarks on a scheme that threatens his burgeoning reputation. As these narratives converge, with disastrous consequences, A Nearly Perfect Copy boldly challenges our presumptions about originality and authenticity, loss and replacement, and the perilous pursuit of perfection.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Nearly Perfect Copy is a less than perfect story about authenticity in life and in art. Allison Amend weaves a story of personal loss and a desire to replace the lost object of affection with an interesting tale of the art world and forgery. Unfortunately, just as great art transcends its individual components, but depends on a mastery of them and forgery depends on attention to detail, Amend fails as an artist because her detailed descriptions at times are irrelevant to the story and she fails to explain how other details are overcome to make a forgery seem authentic.
For example, Amend explains how old paper can be dotted with wormholes, and that a careless forger can be unmasked by ink that bleeds into the holes, showing that while the paper is of the proper age, the drawing is not. She then goes on with a careful description of how the forger prepares the paper, but omits the important detail of how to avoid the bleeding. Later, when Elm, the protagonist, examines...
This is an interesting, if somewhat ponderous book. The story of human descent from reasonably moral, ethical people to lost, corrupt individuals is chronicled among the glitter and mystery of the art world. A woman art appraiser in America and a Spanish artist in France slowly devolve before our eyes. The author's intense desire to have the reader experience each and every gradation of despair is what makes it ponderous at points. Indeed, one can guess the outcome of the book within the first 10 pages. Having said that, it is a worthy read. Both characters seem to have no control over their actions while at the same time thrusting themselves into illegality with every deliberate act. This dichotomy keeps the book interesting.
The best thing about this book is the author's ability to generate suspense out of more or less normal life experiences without resorting to the graphic and unbelievable violence that disfigures so much suspense and mystery writing. The author begins by slowly (too slowly) showing how two unconnected people gradually give in to temptation to engage in fraud and forgery. Both of the main characters are unappealing people who wallow in self-pity and wonder why unethical and criminal conduct leads to a bad outcome. These problems are amplified by an unsurprising wrap up relying on dubious (at best) science. A disappointing book.
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