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The Muralist: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro

The Muralist: A Novel (edition 2016)

by B. A. Shapiro (Author)

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3371847,891 (3.55)18
Title:The Muralist: A Novel
Authors:B. A. Shapiro (Author)
Info:Algonquin Books (2016), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Muralist: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro

  1. 00
    The World to Come by Dara Horn (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These well-researched, moving novels contain multiple parallel plotlines and showcase framed paintings that hide other works of art. The heart-wrenching stories of Jewish war refugees combine with those of historical and fictional figures as modern characters discover their family connections.… (more)

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Danielle works with art and she grew up with very vague details about her great aunt Elizee who was an artist. Elizee worked in Abstract art and disappeared during the 40's never to be heard from again.

Danielle has always tried to find out more about her great aunt's story but her family has limited details and resists talking about her. He grandfather was Elizee's brother and it made him very sad to talk about her and that time of life during the war years as a Jewish family.

Danielle feels that Elizee may be the missing link that is often talked of, mysteriously ofcourse, as the person who brought Abstract art to light and inspired artists like Rotcho and Pollock.

Part of the book is set in present day with Danielle and part in the past with Elizee.

How sad, the things Elizee had to go throw, feeling personally responsible to get her family visas and get them to America with her. How heartbreaking that would be.

I enjoyed the alternating characters and I found the end very satisfying. ( )
  Mishale1 | Dec 29, 2018 |
The latest B. A. Shapiro novel, after The Art Forger, delves into the art world in two centuries and with two artists.

In 2015, Danielle Abrams (Dani) works as a cataloguer for Christies in New York. A lapsed artist, Dani receives several paintings that have been found in an attic. They could be some undiscovered works by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, or Mark Rothko. However, Dani sees something different; the paintings remind her of her great-aunt Alizee Benoit’s work. In the world of abstract expressionism, there has always seemed to be a missing link. Dani has always thought that work could be Alizee’s.

In1939, Alizee Benoit is working for the WPA (Works Progress Adminstration under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal). Her best friends are Jackson Pollock, Leo Krasner, and Mark Rothko. They are painting murals for various buildings, but their true passion is abstract expressionism.

Alizee is a Jew from France and has left her entire family there. As Hitler’s rise to power escalates, letters from her family become more and more desperate, begging her to help them obtain visas to get out. When she’s working on her art, she wants her paintings to reflect the Jewish crisis. When she’s working for the WPA but she’s forced to paint idyllic country scenes. Alizee gets to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, who becomes a champion of her art. This seems a tad implausible, but Shapiro is so deft as a writer, that it’s interesting but not a read-breaker.

Alizee’s family (her brother, aunt, uncle, and two cousins, one with a family) manage to get aboard the MS St. Louis. The plight of the 937 Jews trying to escape persecution was mentioned, but did not delve deep enough for me. That story is all but a footnote in history now, but readers who are curious can learn more about it in: Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust by Sarah A. Ogilvie and Scott Miller.

In the meantime, Dani discovers envelopes containing pieces of canvas behind the paintings that were recently discovered. Dani is also trying to uncover what happened to Alizee. She checked into a sanatorium in 1940 and simply disappeared.

The narrative weaves back and forth between the past and present, bring the art world of the mid-20th century to life. I had hoped to be swept away into this world while I read, but I was not. I was intrigued, but I didn’t find myself anxiously awaiting the time I could get back to the story. Therefore, I give The Muralist 4 out of 5 stars. ( )
  juliecracchiolo | Mar 6, 2018 |
This story centers around the disappearance of a young artist, Alizee Benoit, in New York City, in the 1940s. She had been working as an artist for the Works Progress Administration with a close-knit group of friends including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner when she suddenly vanished. Some 70 years later, her great-niece, Danielle, while working at an auction house, uncovers some hidden pieces of art works hidden behind recently found paintings by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, Shapiro plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. Lovers of mystery, historical fiction, and the art world will find this a riveting read.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Nov 7, 2017 |
I didn't like this novel as much as The Art Forger, perhaps because there was less about art and more tragedy. I have read a lot of holocaust literature in my life and personally right now was just not the time for that sadness. However, the writing is beautiful and the story is interesting. If I were in a different mood I might have liked it much more. The most interesting part for me was the relationship between the painter and Eleanor Roosevelt. ( )
  krazy4katz | Jul 28, 2017 |
Wasn't for me. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
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Eleanor's failure to force her husband to admit more refugees
remained her deepest regret at the end of her life.

-- Doris Kearns Goodwin,
No Ordinary Time
For Emma and Charlotte,
the wonders of my world
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It was there when I arrived that morning, sitting to the right of my desk, ostensibly no different from the other half-dozen cartons on the floor, flaps bend back, paintings haphazardly poking out.
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"When Alizee Benoit, a young American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her arts patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends and fellow WPA painters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who, while working at Christie's auction house, uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?"--Dust jacket.… (more)

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