The Collector’s Apprentice: A Novel

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B.A. Shapiro’s latest novel centers around Paulien Mertens, a young art enthusiast, and her quest to exact revenge on her fiancé-turned-con artist George Everard. When she finds herself alone and penniless, Paulien must use her knowledge and appreciation for the growing Impressionist art scene to work her way back into society, find the man who has ruined her, and restore her family’s fortune— all further complicated when she is accused of murder. In the mix are Parisian 1920s luminaries such as Gertrude Stein and Henri Matisse, as well as a historical look at the establishment of art collections in the United States, making this book perfect for anyone interested in 1920s culture and history.

Shapiro’s non-linear story and present-tense narration may be off-putting to some readers, and the central storyline is a little slow to emerge; as a result, I found it difficult to really dig in and become invested in the characters and plot. However, Shapiro creates a complex, detailed, and historically-accurate world, and the lack of any straightforwardly heroic characters, along with a superb depiction of the glamorous 1920s Parisian art scene, makes this novel a standout among dark, twisting historical mysteries.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Algonquin Books
Publish Date 2018-Oct-16
ISBN 9781616203580 Buy this Book
Issue November 2018
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller


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