An artfully told tale of trade, caste and the obsessive mindset of collectors.

AN OBJECT OF BEAUTY

The NYC art world, seen through the eyes of its most impartial constituents.

In his latest novel, Martin (Born Standing Up, 2007, etc.) unveils an ambitious and heartfelt analysis of both the complexity and absurdity of the Manhattan art market. It begins, appropriately enough, with a confession. “I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see the manuscript bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else.” This declaration spills from arts writer David Franks, who finds a small universe encapsulated in the life of his subject, ex-lover Lacey. From this humble beginning, David chronicles the rise and fall of the fine-art market from the late '90s through the present day, complete with record-breaking prices, art thefts and the premature globalization of a complex system. After college, Lacey and David enter the burgeoning artistic world, Lacey as a grunt at Sotheby’s, David as a struggling writer. David habitually profiles Lacey, an insanely determined dealer with a passion for creativity and wealth. Martin offers fascinating literary capers, mixing in real-life elements like a fictional run-in with novelist John Updike and the spectacular $500 million dollar theft at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. As Lacey graduates to art speculation and gallery ownership, Martin populates her world with a host of compelling characters, among them a desperately infatuated Parisian broker, a manipulative and powerful mentor, and Pilot Mouse, a minor boyfriend who reinvents himself as a Banksy-like artistic guerrilla. To add to the reader’s experience, Martin includes reproductions of artwork referenced in the text, lending another layer of sophistication to an already absorbing story.

An artfully told tale of trade, caste and the obsessive mindset of collectors.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-57364-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

The story of the entangled affairs of a group of exceedingly smart and self-possessed creative types.

Frances, an aloof and intelligent 21-year-old living in Dublin, is an aspiring poet and communist. She performs her spoken-word pieces with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi, who is equally intellectual but gregarious where Frances is shy and composed where Frances is awkward. When Melissa, a notable writer and photographer, approaches the pair to offer to do a profile of them, they accept excitedly. While Bobbi is taken with Melissa, Frances becomes infatuated by her life—her success, her beautiful home, her actor husband, Nick. Nick is handsome and mysterious and, it turns out, returns Frances’ attraction. Although he can sometimes be withholding of his affection (he struggles with depression), they begin a passionate affair. Frances and Nick’s relationship makes difficult the already tense (for its intensity) relationship between Frances and Bobbi. In the midst of this complicated dynamic, Frances is also managing endometriosis and neglectful parents—an abusive, alcoholic father and complicit mother. As a narrator, Frances describes all these complex fragments in an ethereal and thoughtful but self-loathing way. Rooney captures the mood and voice of contemporary women and their interpersonal connections and concerns without being remotely predictable. In her debut novel, she deftly illustrates psychology’s first lesson: that everyone is doomed to repeat their patterns.

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49905-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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