The Artist's Widow

The Artist's Widow

3.25 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 165 x 248 x 20mm | 408g
  • ISIS Publishing
  • ISIS Large Print Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • Large type edition
  • 0753160250
  • 9780753160251

Review Text

The opening of a retrospective showing of an artist's paintings at a London gallery results in a refreshingly sharp study of hypocrisy and hustling. John Crane wasn't an especially celebrated painter while alive, but his death sets in motion a series of attempts to cash in on what he's left behind. For the studiedly shabby and ambitious Nathan Pursey, a self-styled conceptual artist, a resurgence of interest in Crane might mean a chance to leverage himself into a gallery show of his own. For his ruthless family, it might mean a chance to move in on their aging relative, Crane's widow Lyris, and take control of the couple's London house, as well as their art collection. For Zoe, a young, breezily amoral would-be film producer, it means a chance to talk Lyris, herself an accomplished painter, into becoming the subject of a documentary about women artists who have been unfairly eclipsed by the reputations of their mates; it's a work that, she is convinced, will make her reputation. Various other equally hectic and self-obsessed characters are drawn into these machinations. Meanwhile, Lyris, struggling to take back control of her life, receives help from an unlikely source: Jacki, an ex-girlfriend of Nathan's, shows up on her doorstep, looking for a place to stay - and more pressingly for an identity. She has, it turns out, been passing herself off as the child of black immigrants, when in fact she is a member of a white working-class family. Under Lyris's tutelage, she begins to come into her own - and gives Lyris the ally she needs to confound those striving to use her. Mackay (An Advent Calendar, 1997, etc.) has, of all the younger British novelists, the most pronounced appetite for satire. The portrait of modern poseurs on the art scene, and of old-fashioned greed, is concise and droll. And she demonstrates a quite original sense of pacing: the scenes here are short, clipped, and more suggestive than descriptive, making for a swift but engaging pace. A very funny, and ultimately moving, portrait of an aging artist reclaiming her identity. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

28 ratings
3.25 out of 5 stars
5 4% (1)
4 39% (11)
3 43% (12)
2 7% (2)
1 7% (2)
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