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A Fine Imitation

by Amber Brock

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30812671,224 (3.55)7
Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite's restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin. Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus--the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home. Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera's curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan's warmth and passion, Vera can't suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too--and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile. When the dangerous mysteries of Emil's past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice--whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we've always led is not the life we want to have.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book. It was a little slow for the first half of the book and at times Vera could get a little annoying. It was also frustrating at times because obviously during the time the book is set in the early 1900's women are treated and required to act differently. I kept thinking grow some ovaries Vera and just say what you want to say to your husband and mother!! I can't even imagine living in that time period. Vera did have very good character development and I really did love the way it ended! There was also a small twist near the end that I didn't see coming which is always nice! I would actually rate it 3 1/2 stars and recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction with a little romance and intrigue. ( )
  KeriLynneD | Jul 3, 2020 |
Some stories told through alternate timelines can sometimes become confusing. That was not the case with this novel. I enjoyed the way the story flowed from 1913 to 1923 detailing the life of Vera, a woman born into a wealthy family with all the responsibility and expectations it entails. She is allowed to go to college at Vassar where she befriends a woman, Bea, who allows Vera to experience world in a way she could never have imagined. Her story is told alternating from her days at Vassar when she gets involved in a situation with Bea, her unconventional friend and ten years later. Vera begins to question all she knew and believed living a protected life of wealth when she begins an affair with an artist who was hired to paint a mural in the luxury building in which she lives with her husband.

The story exposes questions of human nature that we all have about life. Did I make the right decision? Was it the decision I wanted or was it to make other people happy? What happens when you challenge the beliefs and customs you were raised to believe are "best?" What are you willing to sacrifice for a chance to experience a different beginning? ( )
  marquis784 | Feb 15, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed this book; any book that I find myself unable to put down deserves a four-star rating from me. "A Fine Imitation" is well-written and engaging as well as an interesting look into high society and how it might not be the best for every type of person--especially the sensitive and artistic. My one criticism is that one of the subplots involving her best college girlfriend, Bea, seems like it's going to have more of an influence on her story, but then never truly gets resolved--it just fades into mystery at the end. ( )
  amsee | Jun 14, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"Is life without love, a life at all, or just a fine imitation?"

1913 to 1923 New York - Here tells the tale of a young woman born into privilege and groomed for society's elite. With the world at her feet, why is her loneliness so painfully palpable. The times were a game-changer. Women were seeking higher education and balking at high society's prescribed order and accession planning. As dutiful daughter, Vera follows her mother's directives and plans...that is until she meets Bea, a fellow Vassarite and a woman of the new age - pushing the behavioral envelope of the most highly bred.

Move forward 10 years, and we find Vera having settled into society's prescribed norm of luncheon at noon, cocktails at 5:00 PM and dinner at 6:00 PM with all her elitist friends. Add to that equation a disinterested husband and an aspiring secretive young muralist with a hidden past. Let the games begin.

I found myself irritated with the main character of the story early on which later morphed into pity. I almost lost interest in the story altogether until her character started to change. I don't want to give it away, but for me, it was worth seeing the story through to the end. Sadly, however, the ending felt a bit rushed.

This is a very good debut for author Amber Bock, whose future as a writer seems radiant and bright.

I am grateful to author Amber Brock, publisher Penguin Random House and LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for having provided a copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone. ( )
  KateBaxter | Sep 1, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Set between 1910 and 1920 A Fine Imitation explores the story of society girl Vera and how she navigated her life through the wealthy but soon learns that the lifestyle is not as free as she had hoped. Vera is longing to go to college and study art history; society quickly puts her in her place with restrictions opposed to a woman of the time. Unhappy to know the regulations put on her, she must learn to want more and fight for it. Amber Brock as created a fascinating read looking at the struggles women went through during the decade that became define at the women's right movement. ( )
  JCGirl | Jun 23, 2017 |
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Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one. -- Charles MacKay
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If she had to guess, Vera Longacre would say that most of the girls at Vassar College knew her name and could pick her out of a crowd, even if she could not do the same for them.
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Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite's restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin. Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus--the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home. Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera's curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan's warmth and passion, Vera can't suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too--and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile. When the dangerous mysteries of Emil's past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice--whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we've always led is not the life we want to have.

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