Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos ~ Dominic Smith




Smith, Dominic. 2016. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. New York: Sarah Crichton Books.  ISBN 978-0374106683. $26.00 USD.

I am not usually a fan of historical fiction.  I much prefer contemporary fiction, literary suspense, mysteries and urban fantasy.  However, this rather slim volume caught my eye, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  The Last Painting of Sara De Vos explores the history of one painting and the lives it impacts, from three separate time periods and locations: the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, Manhattan in the 1950's and Sydney, Australia in the year 2000.

This novel is a mesmerizing look at the lives of a fictional female Dutch painter, the owner of the painting and its forger, and how these lives intersect in history and mystery.  The author writes in alternating chapters from the perspective of each of these three characters, and wonderfully develops each one.  The novel provides voluminous details about the Dutch Golden Age of art and the intricate techniques involved in painting restoration and forgery. The details of the different eras are so exquisitely described that I felt I was entering into those time periods. I got so caught up in this story that I did not want to stop reading as it raced to a surprisingly suspenseful resolution.  I admit this novel may have changed my opinion about reading historical fiction! Very well done.

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