The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
A Novel

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Smith’s paintings, like his settings, come alive through detail: the Gowanus Expressway, ruins of an old Dutch village, two women from different times and places both able to capture on canvas simultaneous beauty and sadness.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

"Written in prose so clear that we absorb its images as if by mind meld, 'The Last Painting' is gorgeous storytelling: wry, playful, and utterly alive, with an almost tactile awareness of the emotional contours of the human heart. Vividly detailed, acutely sensitive to stratifications of gender and class, it's fiction that keeps you up at night ― first because you're barreling through the book, then because you've slowed your pace to a crawl, savoring the suspense." ―Boston Globe
A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceA New York Times BestsellerA RARE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY PAINTING LINKS THREE LIVES, ON THREE CONTINENTS, OVER THREE CENTURIES IN THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS, AN EXHILARATING NEW NOVEL FROM DOMINIC SMITH.
Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city's Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.
New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer's marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.
Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.
 

About Dominic Smith

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Dominic Smith grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Austin, Texas. He holds an MFA in writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly.His awards include the Dobie Paisano Fellowship from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize, and the Gulf Coast Fiction Prize. In 2006, his debut novel The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre received the Steven Turner Prize for First Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters.Dominic serves on the fiction faculty in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and has taught recently at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University. Find out more at www.dominicsmith.net.
 
Published April 5, 2016 by Sarah Crichton Books. 306 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 05 2016

This is a beautiful, patient, and timeless book, one that builds upon centuries and shows how the smallest choices—like the chosen mix for yellow paint—can be the definitive markings of an entire life.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Aug 13 2016

Smith’s paintings, like his settings, come alive through detail: the Gowanus Expressway, ruins of an old Dutch village, two women from different times and places both able to capture on canvas simultaneous beauty and sadness.

Read Full Review of The Last Painting of Sara de ... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison on Apr 08 2016

...he can craft an elegant page-turner that carries its erudition effortlessly on an energetic plot. His narratives may be complex, but that quality only enhances their suspense.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison on Apr 08 2016

“The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” may begin as a mystery about a crime, but by the end the reader sees far beneath that surface: All along it was a mystery of the heart.

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