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The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque Hardcover – Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company (Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066211263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066211268
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,965,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

...this deeply engaging book defies all labels. -- Guardian, September 2003 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

New York, 1893, and society portrait painter Piero Piambo feels his artistic ambition waning, even while he immortalizes the city's nouveaux riches in oil paints. But then he receives a bizarre and lucrative commission to paint the mysterious Mrs Charbuque. The catch is that he is not allowed to see her, and so Piambo sits before a screen as his sitter tells him of her life, dreams, and fears -- clues from which he must divine her visage. As he works, a series of murders plagues the city -- deaths that at first seem accidental. And, as Piambo's masterpiece takes shape, his relationship with Mrs Charbuque grows ever more tangled while her deranged husband becomes hell-bent on some inexplicable vengeance. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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MUCH TO my unease, Mrs. Reed positioned herself, all evening, beneath or immediately to either side of her new portrait. Read the first page
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. L. Asher on 11 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
When this grabbed me, I then polished it off in a day. It's a tale half a step away from the real world, just beside the territory of Bram Stoker and Poe (similarly mannered style) where sympathetic magic might work, or might not. I also kept expecting Jack the Ripper to step out of an alley way. It was evocative of that world. The book is full of distorted iconography and wonderful knowing humour: "Put me down for the nose," he said. "A truly ingenious economy of paint." (just one of many examples), the macabre, and the erotic (and the scatological). I'll be reading more of his stuff.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Martin on 4 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding piece of fiction. I really wish there were more writers like Ford in the business. Wonderful prose, delicate lyrical style. And very thoughtful, too. Kept your mind working - a rarity for many books these days, isn't it? Will be buying some more of this man's books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mikko Saari on 8 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
In New York of 1893, painter Piambo is suffocating. He's forced to paint society portraits of the nouveaux riches in order to make a living. A mystery comission to paint the portrait of Mrs. Charbuque offers a way out, as she offers a rather mind-boggling amount of money for her portrait. There's a catch, of course: Piambo is not allowed to see Mrs. Charbuque. He can only hear her talk behind a screen.

Piambo accepts the commission. While he struggles with the painting, a wave of mysterious murders hits New York. Soon Piambo finds out he's in a bit too deep for his own good, but getting out is not that easy - and does Piambo really want to get out?

Jeffrey Ford has written a marvellous book. The story was a real page-turner, this is a magical book full of new wonders. Both Piambo and Mrs. Charbuque are interesting characters and the story is riddled with interesting people and events. It's been a while since I've read a book this captivating. Highly recommended for the fans of magical and fantastic.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sarah McIntyre on 5 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
This novel sparked my imagination from its first pages. As the painter, Mr Piambo, laboured to capture the likeness of his invisible -and possibly mad - patron, Mrs Charbuque, I found myself urgently making my own mental portraits of her, as if to beat Piambo to the goal. Ford writes cleverly without being pretentious, and maintains real suspense throughout the book. I couldn't put it down - and will never be able to smell nutmeg without fond memories.
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