Skip to main content

Review: The Fraud, by Barbara Ewing


The Fraud is a novel with a complicated plot. It opens in 1735, and closes in the 1780s, so it covers a lot of ground. Growing up, Grace Marshall had every intention of becoming a Painter; but her brother Philip was the one who was permitted to take his Grand Tour to Europe to study art. Many years later, he comes back from Grace—as Filipo de Vecellio, conquering the world of portrait painting in London. He enlists his sister’s help in his deception, and Grace becomes Francesca, housekeeper to the famous portrait painter. It’s a remarkable self-sacrifice that Grace makes, but she does it for love of her brother—who, in time, she ends up hating.

There’s a whole lot going on in this novel, some of it crucial to the plot, some of it not (I won’t go into specifics, but sometimes I felt as though the author thought “what’s the worst thing that can happen in this situation?” and made it happen to her characters). I also didn’t really believe in Grace’s relationship with James Burke (because honestly, would someone like him really have behaved the way he did in real life?) There are lots of run-on sentences, and the author seems fond of Capital Letters.

It’s a good story nonetheless, well researched, that takes place in the art galleries and auction rooms of London at a time when English art was beginning to be taken seriously. There’s a huge amount of detail here—right down to the very materials used to mix paint! Well-drawn (if I may use the pun) are the characters—Grace’s passion for her art is almost palpable, and Philip’s boorishness is maddening at times. Technically the book is well written, though the jump back and forth between Grace’s narration and the omniscient narrator may be a bit jarring at first (as it was to me). It’s a novel of passion, of obsession, and of money—above all things, money, which drives the motives of most of the characters of this novel.

Comments

I may pick this up to read, as I liked Ewing's book The Trespass. Thanks for the review!

- Christy
wereadtoknow said…
I agree with Christy, I loved The Trespass when I read it too, and I'm a sucker for well researched books about painting! Sounds like a read worth considering!

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…