The Last Painting of Sara de Vos got a rave review on the ABC's Bookclub program early on this year.
I've been saving it for my week's holiday at the beach, because it sounded like it would be my kind of perfect lie-by-the-pool-and-read-all-day book.
And it was.
Skipping between the 1600's in the Netherlands to the 1950's in New York and the year 2000 in pre-Olympic Sydney, we follow the fate of little known (fictional) artist Sara de Vos and her painting, At the Edge of a Wood.
Described as an 'art-thriller' in some reviews, Smith weaves a wonderfully engaging story about art forgery that spans decades and continents with ease. He builds up the psychological tension bit by bit. His characters are flawed, interesting human beings. The historical elements are vividly drawn and given a modern touch, maybe not quite in the same league as Hilary Mantel, but of that style.
And I learnt stacks about how to forge a painting and the use of light and shade in Dutch paintings.
Historical fiction, art culture, crime and mystery with a whiff of romance! Something for everyone to enjoy.
Smith is Australian born, but describes himself as 'a lapsed Australian'. He now lives in Texas with his family and has four books under his belt. If you haven't read any of his work before, I'm sure this book will have you searching out his backlist pretty quick.
17/20 books of summer (winter)