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The Forgery of Venus [Hardcover]

Michael Gruber
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 2008

An artist born outside his time, Chaz Wilmot can paint like Leonardo, Goya, Gainsborough—and he refuses to shape his talent to fit the fashion of the day. His unique abilities attract the attention of Werner Krebs, an art dealer with a dark past and shadier present, and soon Wilmot is working with a fervor he hasn't felt in years. But his creative burst is accompanied by strange interludes—memories that are not memories . . . and he begins to wonder if he is really the person he believes he is. When a previously unknown masterpiece by the Spanish painter Velázquez is discovered, the artist suddenly finds himself lost in a mirrored house of illusions—and propelled into a secret world of greed, lies . . . and murder.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company (April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060874481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060874483
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,288,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Tantalizing...exhilarating. Retains the power from the first chapter to keep readers desperate for the suspenseful, addictive fix of every succeeding one. FORGERY OF VENUS is a highly intelligent novel that entertains and educates.” (USA Today)

“Ingenious...The author owns his subject matter and packs it with well-researched details, making this...a successful, suspenseful examination of insanity, forgery and reality.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“(An) imaginative novel of psychological suspense.” (Boston Globe)

“Michael Gruber’s new thriller, THE FORGERY OF VENUS, is as layered as a luminous portrait by an old master. A tour-de-force combination of suspense and characterization, as well as a primer on the world of art and art forgery.” (Seattle Times)

“Gruber writes passionately and knowledgeably about art and its history--and he writes brilliantly about the shadowy lines that blur reality and unreality. Fans of intelligent, literate thrillers will be well rewarded.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Irresistible. Fast, Frightening and, as usual, richly imagined.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

“Gruber writes thrillers for smart people. This novel is about art and creativity. That sounds lofty, but Gruber gives it humor and heart. The ensuing drama, involving a forgery believed to be the work of Diego Velazquez, keeps you on your toes.” (Arizona Republic)

“Gruber is on a roll…[a] terrific art-historical thriller…a perfect place to get lost for a few days. Once again, Gruber mines a popular vein and strikes gold.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Smart and literate. Gruber approaches art with obvious appreciation, and has woven a clever story with plenty of detail.” (Wichita Eagle)

“A quick and sharp romp through the art world. Downright delicious.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Gruber writes with a deft hand, creating a fallen hero who is likeable despite his faults.” (Library Journal)

“This is an art lover’s dream. Mystery and obsession are textured with art history in a plot that explores not only the shifting nature of art, but also the complex nature of identity. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“Michael Gruber’s large and growing number of fans won’t be disappointed with his sixth novel, a thriller in the art history vein. He’s woven a tale within a tale within a tale, all filled with marvelous twists and turns that build suspense and heighten the mystery until the satisfying conclusion.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“This terrific art thriller has history, thieves, insider snippets and a convoluted plot to keep you guessing.” (Toronto Globe and Mail)

“THE FORGERY OF VENUS is the latest in Gruber’s series of amazing books. He has applied his deft touch to everything from Shakespeare to shamanism, yielding a finely drawn portrait of an engrossing world every time.“ (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

“Michael Gruber giv(es) us a finale in which the excitement level is high because we don’t know who, if anyone, to trust. It’s a satisfying conclusion, one that will leave readers debating the morality of Wilmot’s final decision.” (Tampa Tribune)

“Stunning...utterly unique, and breathtakingly original. It’s one of those novels you want to press upon your friends, fully confident that it will not disappoint. It’s a tour de force performance from Gruber, and a novel worthy of considerable attention.” (Edmonton Journal (Canada))

“Michael Gruber has created a first-rate thriller that throws the reader into the art world, past and present.” (Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Michael Gruber is the author of five acclaimed novels. He lives in Seattle.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forging a Masterpiece 12 Aug 2010
I'm a sucker for novels about art forgery and faked antiques. I've thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series and Iain Pears Art History mysteries featuring Jonathan Argyll and the Italian art theft squad. So seeing "The Forgery of Venus" was a no-brainer for picking up, but this book was more than an art scam rip-off; it's a kaleidoscope look inside the "hero's" head that makes this a masterpiece read.

Artist Chaz Wilmot has little regard for modern painting technique: "Anyone can do a figure in oils. If you screw up, you just paint over it, and who cares if the paint is half an inch thick. The thing is to catch the life without trying, without any obvious working." When someone says that he's painting like Velásquez, Chaz agrees. "I can paint like anybody except me." So Chaz takes on the challenge of recreating (not restoring) a Tiepolo fresco so successfully no expert can tell the difference. Then, later, he creates a "lost" Venus by Velásquez, while channeling the dead artist--living within the artist in 17th Century Spain and Italy--until he is so mixed up that "I had no idea who I was."

"There were possibilities, I had those,... I might be Chaz Wilmot, hack artist, forger of a painting now hailed as one of the great works of Velásquez, hiding out from criminals. I might be Chaz Wilmot successful New York painter, now insane and under treatment... Or I might be Diego Velásquez, caught in a nightmare. Or some combination. Or someone else entirely. Or maybe this was hell itself. How would I tell?"

So who is he? Does it matter? The transitions from being Wilmot to being Velásquez are so smooth that it takes the reader a moment to realize which one is speaking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The usual high standard for Gruber 18 Aug 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I simply loved reading this book and never wanted it to end. Michael Gruber brings the techniques of painting alive (and I'm no artist!) and his describing of pigments and brushstrokes had me hooked. There was danger, adventure, mystery and romance - everything a good book needs! If you are a fan, you won't be disappointed and if you're new to Gruber, give it a go but also read "The Book Of Air and Shadows" and see what Dan Brown could be if he tried harder!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art Is Not The Subject 22 April 2008
By taking a rest HALL OF FAME
Michael Gruber is a fine writer. I have read all of his published work with the exception of "The Witch's Boy". The omission is not for a specific reason; I simply have not gotten to that work as of yet. Just as he did with "The Book Of Air And Shadows" he provides the reader with the background that is necessary for the enjoyment of this work. You did not need to be a scholar of Shakespeare to enjoy his last book and you need not be an art history major any more than you need a degree in psychiatry or medicine to enjoy his offering this time through.

This book is about reality and various characters perception of it. The views of events are made more complex because of the history of the main character and those around him who witnessed his bizarre and destructive behavior. Perception of experience in general and events in particular make for fascinating discussion with sober minds and witnesses with integrity. The author has given us a protagonist who is at once gifted and terribly self-destructive. His recreational drug use suggests he has the constitution of a lab rat. When sober he then becomes a voluntary test subject for mind-altering drugs in a clinical study.

Once this begins things get a bit too muddled. We don't need a Nazi playing the role of resident evil and the cast of characters ready to exploit the main character regardless of the damage to him is remarkable for these are not all strangers. Mr. Gruber gives us acquaintances of varying degree to demonstrate how horrible we can be to one another. I also felt the debates between characters in the book about what is real truly was about what is expedient. Self-interest trumps insight in this tale.

I really enjoy this author and I look forward to what he will bring next.
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