Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday Intros No. 6: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith

Welcome to First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros,
hosted by Diane @

Every Tuesday, each participant
shares the first paragraph 
(sometimes two) from a book
they're reading,
or thinking about reading.

The book I've picked this week is...

 The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Dominic Smith
Hardcover, 304 pages 
Sarah Crichton Books     
April 5, 2016
Art, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


About the Book
This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the reading's done. In his earlier, award-winning novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.

In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain--a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.

Upper East Side
November 1957

The painting is stolen the same week the Russians put a dog into space. Plucked from the wall right above the marital bed during a charity dinner for orphans. This is how Marty de Groot will tell the story in the years ahead, how he'll spin it for the partners at the law firm and quip it to comedic life at dinner parties and over drinks at the Racquet Club. We're dipping shrimp in cocktail sauce, working Rachel's best china out on the terrace because it's mild for early November, you understand, while two thugs -- middlemen disguised as caterers, let's say -- are swapping out the real painting with a meticulous fake. He'll be particularly proud of that last phrase -- meticulous fake. He'll use it with friends and insurance agents and the private investigator, because it sets up the rising action of the story, suggests that a prodigy or mastermind has been patiently plotting against him, just as the Russians have been conspiring all these years to colonize the stratosphere. The phrase will also help disguise the fact that Marty didn't notice the beautiful fake for months. 

I have just found out about this
book on Goodreads, and I 
think it promises to be very exciting!   
From what I posted above, would you
say I should keep reading? 


Literary Feline said...

I would definitely keep reading, Maria. I really like the intro you shared. I fins stories of art theft so intriguing.

Cleo Bannister said...

Yes I'd keep reading after that opening, the last line clinched it for me!

Margot said...

I like the tone of the first paragraph. I'd keep reading.

Tea Norman said...

I don't know the author. That doesn't seem to matter at this time. Each sentence leads me into the next sentence. I would definitely keep reading. I really like the first sentence. I feel this author's writing will leaver her mark. I'll know her name next time.

Beth F said...

Wow! Yes, I want to read more! Great opening.

Brian Joseph said...

This really looks to be good book. The plot sounds like a lot of fun. The writing style of the piece that you posted seems to confirm that.

I would keep reading.

I really look forward to your commentary on this one when you post it.

grammajudyb said...

I am in agreement with the others. I want to read this one. Thanks for sharing. I am adding it to my lists, right now!

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Wendy!

I LOVE to read books which feature anything related to the art world! This one sure looks intriguing! I've never read a book about art theft before, so I know this will be an interesting experience!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Cleo & Margot!

Yes, this opening is definitely a great one! It hooked me, too! I'll be acquiring this book just as soon as I can, and plunge in!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Tea!

You're so right -- one sentence flows right into the next. I really like this author's style! I've never heard of him, either, but this book is being heavily advertised on Goodreads, so I decided to take a closer look. I LOVED what I saw! I'll be buying it just as soon as I can, so I can dive into this riveting story! Glad you liked it, too!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Vicki said...

This isn't my usual genre, but I like the sound of it so far and I'd keep reading.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds very different from anything I generally read. I'd try a bit more - hope u like it.

Heather Fineisen said...

I started this last week and am enjoying it. I like the three intertwined stories and the art history. Keep reading!

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Beth!

That's the same thing I thought when I read this opening: "WOW!!" I need to get this book as soon as possible, and dive right in!!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Brian!

Oh, I LOVE to read anything related to art, whether fiction or nonfiction! And I really like the plot of this novel; as you say, it sounds like fun! There's a bit of mystery, and, of course, I also like the feminist premise -- that a female painter was admitted to a prestigious painter's guild as a master painter. Of course, this artist is totally fictitious, but it doesn't matter -- this is still fascinating stuff!

I want to start reading this right away! However, there are other books I need to get to....but I think I might not be able to resist getting to this one as soon as possible! Lol.

Thanks for the nice comment!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Judy!

I'm so glad you like this novel, and are adding it to your TBR! The consensus seems to be that this will be a great read!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Vicki!

Yes, the prose style has a certain immediacy of tone that I really like. Plus, I'm very intrigued by the plot. I know I'll love this one!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Diane!

Actually, I don't think I've ever read anything involving art theft. But, since I love art, and enjoy reading about it, I decided to try this one out! I think I'll love it!

Thanks for commenting back!! :)

Emma Littlefield said...

I am not sure about the concept. BUT I do like the intro. One to ponder.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Emma!

Yes, the intro. is great! I know I'm going to enjoy this novel!

Thanks for commenting back!! :)