The Portrait by Iain Pears

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A national bestseller from acclaimed author Iain Pears, The Portrait is a novel of suspense and a tour de force.

An art critic journeys to a remote island off Brittany to sit for a portrait painted by an old friend, a gifted but tormented artist living in self-imposed exile. The painter recalls their years of friendship, the gift of the critic's patronage, and his callous betrayals. As he struggles to capture the character of the man, as well as his image, on canvas, it becomes clear that there is much more than a portrait at stake...

Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio are also available from Riverhead Books.

About Iain Pears

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Iain Pears is the author of the New York Times bestseller An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Portrait. He lives in Oxford, England.
Published April 4, 2006 by Riverhead. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, History, Gay & Lesbian, Crime. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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His monologue ranges over the moment when he first knew himself to be an artist, the shameful way he got money for his first trip to Paris, the still undetected fraud he perpetrated on William years ago, and his relations with the painter Evelyn, the prostitute/model Jacky, and the prophetic patr...

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Publishers Weekly

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While this novel never approaches the sly cleverness and tingling suspense of John Lanchester's A Debt to Pleasure , which it otherwise resembles, readers will enjoy some period ironies, as when MacAlpine expresses contempt for the upstart French Impressionists, while the contemptible Naysmith di...

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Book Reporter

MacAlpine, living alone in a hut on a stormy island, far away from anything to do with art, is unable to escape the spirits of two women --- one an artist, the other a model --- who both owe their ruin to Nasmyth.

Jan 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Portrait

Bookmarks Magazine

A little less sprawling and complicated than Pears’s acclaimed An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio ( 3 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2002), and yet richer and more satisfying than his Jonathan Argyll mystery series, The Portrait is just that—a portrait of a single episode, a single monologue.

Jan 02 2008 | Read Full Review of The Portrait

MacAlpine produces a diatribe about the role of the artist and the critic, his feelings towards Impressionist painters, how they are two sides of the same coin, and most important of all, how he plans to ruin Nasmyth especially after the portrait is done.

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You'll find no corpse, no detectives, no question, really, for quite some time, only a middle-aged Scottish painter, Henry McAlpine, welcoming the distinguished London art critic William Nasmyth to his humble home on the coast of Brittany in 1913, and then painting a portrait of him that he claim...

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