Artists -- fiction
When promising artist Artemisia is found with a slit throat, her married lover is sentenced to be executed for the murder. But Lady Sundridge is convinced that Miles Ramsforth, patron of the arts, is innocent of killing his comely protégé—who also happened to be pregnant with his first child. On the advice of a shadowy figure, Lady Sundridge enlists the expertise of amateur sleuths Veronica Speedwell and her partner Revelstoke “Stoker” Templeton-Vane.
The pressure’s on for the detectives as the execution is scheduled in seven days. The biggest problem hinges on the existence of any number of suspects who had good reason to frame Ramsforth for the violent crime. And, to introduce several more intriguing wrinkles, Lady Sundridge is not who she claims to be. When their lives are threatened, Veronica and Stoker are certain they’re getting closer to solving the case.
A Perilous Undertaking, by Virginia’s own Deanna Raybourn, is the second in the Veronica Speedwell series. If you haven’t already read the first book, I would definitely recommend starting with A Curious Beginning. Despite the book’s setting of late 1800s England, Veronica is quite the modern woman. She travels the world solo, capturing exotic butterflies to sell to any number of wealthy collectors.
There was never any doubt that Claire Roth was an exceptionally gifted painter. But in The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro, her troubles begin when she creates a piece for her boyfriend Isaac, a famous but blocked artist. He gratefully submits the work as his own for a prestigious MoMA commission. The painting becomes an instant sensation, and overnight Isaac is the new darling of the art world. He unceremoniously dumps Claire but continues to reap the benefits associated with her work.
In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro gracefully explores the experiences and memories of a disgraced artist living in post-war Japan. The novel is seductive and haunting, but I was also impressed by its substance and depth.
Mansuji Ono, the novel’s protagonist, was once a great artist whose paintings commanded respect throughout Japan. Following the end of World War II, however, Ono experiences a surreal displacement. From Ono’s perspective, the former order he was a part of has not only been abandoned, it has been rejected and renounced as the epitome of disaster. Instead of enjoying the power and prestige that accompanied his former reputation, Ono finds himself adrift, an aging man who wanders through a crumbling house, where all traces of his past life have been “tidied away.”