Lacking – The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

by Dominic Smith

IMG_20160414_145412

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

 

“By the time Gabriel came to her with the commission for At the Edge of a Wood, she had saved close to ten thousand dollars – so she technically didn’t need the money. He said the present owner wanted an exact replica made but couldn’t bear to part with the original. She remained skeptical and told him that copying an artwork was not the same as restoring it. But when he produced three high-resolution color photographs of the painting in its frame she felt her breath catch – it was unlike anything else painted by a baroque woman.”

Split narratives intertwine to reveal the path of Sara de Vos’ illusive 17th century painting, At the Edge of a Wood, and its forged copy. From Sara’s life, struggles and motives, to the most recent owner of the painting, a wealthy Manhattan socialite in the 1950’s, to the naive student skilled in art restoration and living in 1950’s Brooklyn, to the modern-day exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales which could be the setting for the truth to reveal itself.

 

Janelle says…

 

The more time I have to think about this book since finishing it, the more dissatisfied I feel about it. I don’t even have a lot to say about it, because there’s really just not that much to say. Not much happened in this book!

There’s a painting from the 17th century, which has found its way into the home of a wealthy family in the 1950’s, only to be stolen and forged at the same time, and then in the 2000’s both the original and the forgery rise to the surface ahead of an upcoming exhibition on Dutch women painters of the 17th century at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Even after the reading the book though, there are still holes in my mind as to the movements of the painting, so that’s about the best I can do in outlining the story.

I heard about this book and actually assumed it might have a light thriller or mystery-type feel to it, and so I was excited when I found a competition to win an advance copy on the publisher Allen & Unwin’s site. And then even more excited when I actually won the advance copy! I bumped it to the top of my TBR list and started reading it, but I found it hard to stay focussed on the words. I realised I was bored, twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen, but I stuck with it because I was sure something would happen. It had the makings of an interesting and surprising story that I could get on board with – there were literary aspects, the touches of history and culture, museum life which is something to which I can relate to and understand…..all it needed was some kind of event or revelation. So I kept reading (slowly), and then when I got to the end, finally something semi-interesting did happen, but then the book finished quite suddenly in the middle of a scene, and what I thought could actually have been a great scene had it been allowed to continue! What the?

I can sniff undertones of feminism here, in both the scenes from the 1630’s featuring Sara de Vos, and the 2000’s when we follow Eleanor Shipley, but that’s something I’ve realised may have been there only since reading the book and trying to find some kind of message, they weren’t formed ideas that were clear during the reading of it.

It might seem an obvious recommendation to people who are into art or museum culture, but I’m not sure even those people would find this interesting. It wasn’t a total blowout. I didn’t hate it. It just didn’t leave any impression at all. Still, I’m going to stick with the rating I gave it on Goodreads straight after finishing it.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Loveable – Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus

by Steven Rowley

lilyoctopusimg400

Published June 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

 

“….Thursday nights are the nights my dog, Lily, and I set aside to talk about boys we think are cute.”

Ted lives with his long-time companion, his dog Lily, and through their years together they see relationships come and go, they share heartbreak, they have adventures and they ponder cute male celebrities. But with the arrival of the octopus, their world could completely change.

 

Janelle says…

 

It was the wonderfully weird synopsis on Netgalley that enticed me to read this book – “…a struggling writer finds himself unable to open up to the possibility of love – except through the companionship of his aging dachshund Lily. But with the unexpected arrival of a small octopus that affixes itself to Lily’s head, it soon becomes clear the invader is strangling the life from his dog and threatening the bond with his one true friend.”

Now who wouldn’t be intrigued by that?

I don’t really want to say too much about the story here for fear of giving away spoilers. What I can say is that this is the story of a long friendship between a single man and his dog, and that for both of them the relationship is the most important one in their lives.

The animal lovers among us will know that our pets are there with us through our challenges and triumphs, like any other member of the family or close friendship circle. You’ll empathise with the bond that these two characters share, although perhaps you might not have been absolute best friends with your pet like Ted is with Lily in this book.

The book certainly is strange, but there is a sad logic to the strangeness. Overall I just found it to be very sweet and I was immediately endeared to Ted and Lily. I laughed out loud in spots, and then in others I teared up. At times this book felt like a great big hug, and at other times I felt like I had been punched in the chest. And I’m not saying anything more! Other than if you’ve ever loved a pet, and even if you haven’t, I think this book is well worth your time.

Lily and the Octopus will be published in June by Simon & Schuster.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

*I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Feels – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

2016-05-05 21.14.54

Published 2014

Genres: Fiction / Suspense

 

“Samantha: Parents do tend to judge each other. I don’t know why. Maybe because none of us really know what we’re doing? And I guess that can sometimes lead to conflict. Just not normally on this sort of scale.”

School dramas are not always isolated to the playground. The Kindy Mums at Pirriwee Public School are starring in a soap opera of their own making, with gossip, finger-pointing, cliques, and general bitchiness a daily occurrence. But some of them have secrets too. And when the truths start to come out, tensions will culminate in the death of a parent.

 

Janelle says…

FINALLY I have gotten around to reading Liane Moriarty, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and now I can’t wait to read more of her work. This book floored me. I had so many feelings while reading it. I laughed, I cried, I sizzled with anger, I squirmed with discomfort. And I was right there with the characters, cheering for the ones I loved, booing for the ones I despised. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about the characters, wondering about them and how their story would unfold, as if they were real.

We follow three lead characters in this story – outspoken, loud, fun-loving Madeline; quiet, uncertain, plain Jane; and classy, nervous, beautiful Celeste. Each of these three friends leads very different family lives, and each has their secrets and worries. Their children and the school are the glue that brings them together, as well as the intermittent scandals of the other bitchier school Mums.

A warning – this is no catty, gossipy Mum drama. This book can get intense at times, and deals with some dark issues. There is teenager trouble, domestic violence issues, bullying and harrassment, self-image worries, sexual abuse…..and as mentioned above, death. But it deals with it all in such a real way, the internal murmurings of the characters dealing with these problems are honest and what I imagine would be true-to-life in those situations.

We find out early in the book that a parent has been killed, but we don’t know how, why, or even who, and the narrative eludes to the possibility of another parent being involved in the death but we don’t know any details for certain. There’s an added layer of suspense throughout the whole story, as we go back to the beginning and work our way towards the event in which a parent dies, learning facts as we go and trying to piece together the puzzle.

This was a wonderful piece of suspenseful fiction, which I feel does fit under the umbrella of literary fiction despite the plot being packed with events along the way. But I think you will get even more enjoyment from this book if you are a parent yourself. Your compassion, horror, disgust, grief, and solidarity with the characters will be all the more rich for having that in common with them.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 42 other followers

Follow Little Blog of Books on WordPress.com