Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: An Object of Beauty: A Novel

An Object of Beauty: A Novel
An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was great. I love Steve Martin's writing style and always get very into his stories. One thing I can say against them is that they're always too short and don't let me live in his world long enough, but that being said they're still all great and this one was no exception.

An Object of Beauty is written from the point of view of an observer to the main character's life. Lacey is the subject and one of her close guy friend's whom she had a one night tryst with once upon a time is her storyteller. He is an art writer and she is an aspiring art dealer working her way up from the very bottom. Her story is about the rise, the amazing rise she took to do exactly what she wanted to do. She uses dishonesty, bargaining, bluffing, sex, and scavenging, as well as humor, knowledge, and experience. She is an amazing character who you never actually sympathize for and you know exactly what is coming to try to knock her down a few pegs.

The art in the book is probably what turns a lot of people off it. If you don't care about art, appreciate art or know even basic artist names, then a lot of this book is going to bore you and seem like "too much art talk". If you took an art history class in college or enjoy going to museums or know people who own fine art, then this is a really neat look into a world that you may not have known actually exists. The fact that the story takes place in our very recent US history also makes it intriguing, as we see the immediate repercussions of things that happened in the early millennium.

The characters are new and interesting, art dealers and brokers, private collectors and European's with more money than should be allowed. The extravagance could get annoying if you don't know what's coming. Lacey is an unsympathetic character, she's not a monster, but you never really feel like she deserves her successes, but in the end if she fails you'd still feel regret for her. Our unreliable narrator is not a fully fleshed out character because his story isn't the one being told, we really only deal with him when he's actually interacting with Lacey. He says up front that a lot of the stuff can't be fact because he wasn't there, but he fills in the gaps with what he thinks may have happened based on Lacey's recounts to him. The small characters are great, her art dealer mentor Talley is awesome, her European boyfriend Patrice is delightful. But at the end there are a few characters thrown in that don't really get their fair time in the spot light.

Overall I really loved this book and will totally read it again someday.

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