This is a clever novel with many twists, a mystery novel, and a rumination on art and reality, with a sidelong glance at romance. The Art Forger is a talented young painter named Claire Roth, blackballed from major art shows by tragic circumstances having to do with the death of a former lover. To make a living she has been painting openly-acknowledged reproductions of classic works for sales to collectors. An important gallery owner says that if she will forge a copy of an art piece for him and NOT publicly acknowledge it as a reproduction, he will help re-launch her career.
Shapiro gives us many details and history on real art forgery, which is fascinating. And I liked her thoughts on the obsessive devotion of artists and art collectors. But what really makes the story work is how she reveals the story of the painting and Clair’s own history layer by layer, like a painter gradually removing the paint from an old canvas and building a new painting with careful brush strokes. Really well done.