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An Object of Beauty

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  41,745 Ratings  ·  2,777 Reviews
Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Grand Central Publishing
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Blake Yes you definitely should (if you haven't already). You are not supposed to like Lacey she is vile.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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About three-quarters of the way through this, I decided this book reminded me of something. The question of what it was started to bother me more than actual questions arising from the novel. At first, I thought it must be its resemblance to other novels written by smart men about fascinating, terrifying women they cannot either understand or, despite numerous injuries, quite break free of. The women where one can never completely decide if they are a heroine given their time and milieu, if they ...more
Aug 20, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
This novel is gorgeous, both in prose and in presentation.

An Object of Beauty is the story of Lacey Yeager, a young woman who is determined to succeed in the New York art world. Lacey can be cunning and manipulative, working her way up from the basement of Sotheby's to owning her own gallery, and at times it felt wrong to be rooting for her, because she could be so cold. Her story is told by Daniel, a friend and art writer, who is quietly jealous of Lacey's numerous boyfriends.

Steve Martin is a
Aug 25, 2011 Mon rated it liked it
Shelves: art-architecture
Here's the million dollar question:
Without googling the respective of the below artworks, what do you think is the similarity between them?

First off, paintings!

Now sculptures.

Ok I'm tired, I originally planned to do an installation, mixed media art comparison as well. Like I said, TIRED.


For the paintings, the first one is Renoir's Le Moulin de la Galette, and the second one de Kooning's Woman 3. Both are some of the most expensive works on this
Apr 24, 2011 Danny rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
As a giant Steve Martin fan, and one who loved his novels "Shopgirl" and "The Pleasure of My Company," I found his newest novel absolutely disappointing.

Taking place in the stuffy New York City world of fine art collecting and dealing, "An Object of Beauty" follows Lacey Yeager through her nearly two-decade career in Manhattan. The result is rather dull. While Martin's writing is well done, the story itself is forgettable in just about every way.

The story has more to do with how much art is wor
Betsy Robinson
Sep 01, 2016 Betsy Robinson rated it it was amazing
This is a compelling character portrait in the guise of an art caper, that simultaneously delivers a rich cultural history of the art world and its zoo of bombastic players in the competitive sport of collecting and selling. An Object of Beauty recounts the dramatic vicissitudes from the late 1990s to the recession, and does it with such an artistic hand that you might miss the depth of knowledge that weaves this story together. The story is told by an art writer who introduces us to his one-tim ...more
what an amazing novel. Martin wrote with a beautifully prosaic voice, and kept me spellbound throughout. I highly recommend this novel, if not for the characters, story line, or art history lesson, then for the pictures, which I loved him adding. It sure saved me time from Googling them online, in order to refresh my memory.
Martin's descriptions of the art, and the era, were more than apt; they were precise and unerring. He knew the art world like he'd LIVED the art world, and knew all the chara
Claire M.
Dec 04, 2013 Claire M. rated it it was ok
Given my limited amount of money, I always read a ton of reviews (NOT on amazon) before I buy a book, so it was with some measure of disappointment that I noticed that Steve Martin's latest had a number of very mixed reviews, with the majority of them being negative. I bought it anyway. I loved Shopgirl and found his autobiography riveting, so I plonked down some money for the hardcover.

I find myself agreeing with the majority of these reviewers. I also agree with them on the strength of this bo
Nov 29, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
The working title for this could have easily been N.Y. Story, which is a little bit of a surprise from the very-Californian Steve Martin. The book is a tour through close to two recent decades of NYC life, as seen through the prism of the city's art world. At times it seems like the art history lessons and plot/character bits were written separately and spliced together, but more often than not they hang together well enough. The book is a quick, enjoyable read that's especially tailored for New ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Melanie rated it liked it
I would give this 2.5 stars if possible but rounded up to three. I came soooo close to abandoning this one. For the first half I felt like there wasn't much plot. It's a story about a woman living in NYC involved in the business of buying and selling art. She is not a likeable person. Very narcissistic. In the second half the story picked up a bit. Very interesting learning about the art world (there are some pictures of the artwork mentioned in the story which was nice). It ended up being not ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Gail rated it really liked it
Reading Steve Martin's new book is a pleasure best reserved for someone with an interest in art. Someone who can tell a Cezanne from a de Kooning. Not familiar with either? A Pollack from a Picasso, then, at the very least.

Being an art lover myself, I was quickly wrapped up in a storyline that, along the way, seemed less concerned with the outcome of its main character as in cluing readers in to the inner workings of the art industry (high-stakes game of curators, collectors, auction houses and
Aug 21, 2016 Vonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit that I did not like this at first. In retrospect, it had a lot to do with me expecting something else entirely, given the author and his other works. I have to say Steve Martin impresses me in new ways all the time. His other fiction was so wonderful, I expected more of the same. Whereas it is more of the same, in that it is great fiction with well developed characters, humor, insight, etcetera, there is a not insignificant difference here. This novel is actually very closely blended ...more
Dec 02, 2012 Gerald rated it really liked it
Mixed review: Character study 5 stars. I really like Lacey Yeager for (no doubt, because of) all her faults. She is sexy, clever, manipulative, shameless, and almost totally heedless (though not quite). Humor 2 stars. While this story is not a melodrama, it's not a comedy either. Dry wit is the operative mode. I didn't find myself laughing. An occasional smile, I admit. Plot and storyline: 3 stars. I always wanted to know what would happen next. But in too many instances I was disappointed. ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing
I picked this audiobook up on a whim, and really, really ended up really enjoying it.

In my opinion, the writing was really top-notch. The language was clever and witty and lean. The story is charming and insightful, and subtle. It's character-focused, without being the sort of self-indulgent literary thing that I really dislike.

The story itself centers around several characters who work in the New York art world. I don't know anything about art, what's more, I don't really *care* about art. (A
Mary Ronan Drew
Mar 21, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mary Ronan by: Les Rowe
At the Academy Awards they always introduce the winners as “multi-talented.” Normally that means they can walk and chew gum at the same time. But in the case of Steve Martin, author of An Object of Beauty, an Emmy, Grammys, a very successful career as a comedian and actor, and two excellent books of fiction, not to mention a stageplay, screenplays, a children’s book, a comedy collection, and pieces for the New Yorker and the New York Times, qualify him as a 21st century Renaissance man.

My friend
This third novel by comedian and actor Steve Martin boasts a great opening line, which I found impossible to resist:
I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see it bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else.
The narrator is Daniel, an art writer in 1990s New York. However, he is a largely featureless figure, with his narrative (as the above suggests) being almost entirely devoted to his fr
Apr 10, 2012 Caitydid rated it it was ok
I can respect that Steve Martin is capable of writing sober, sensitive and thoughtful fiction. Nevertheless, in reading An Object Of Beauty, I kept wishing that at least bits of Martin's dry comedic voice would enter into this slow, vaguely disappointing book. As with Shopgirl, Martin's Obsessed with a beautiful, if sad, young woman. It took about two paragraphs to get the obvious metaphor of the title, that the 'object of beauty' here was not the artworks the main character handles at her job, ...more
Feb 20, 2011 Paula rated it it was ok
I liked Steve Martin's Shopgirl a lot, and I'm also into art, so I thought I'd enjoy this book more. The best thing about it is that Steve Martin knows how to write about art; his descriptions of the many paintings in this book are readable and beautiful, better than the stuff you'll get from major art critics any day. Martin writes about the art world from the 90s to the present with clarity and authority.

But: I wish Martin's characters here were as interesting as his art musings. Unfortunately
Dec 16, 2015 Amanda NEVER MANDY rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I savored this book. I’m not going to say that it was the best damn book I have ever read but that it did what a story is supposed to do, entertain. I purposely read it slow because of the author’s voice. I wanted the words to flow around in my mind a little longer than usual, so I could recreate the art it was painting right before my eyes. I found myself staring longingly at the few pictures of different art pieces contained within its pages, even stopping to lookup whatever pieces that were ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Sharon rated it liked it
Fun and zesty, exactly what I needed after several heavy reads. He's a good writer - smooth and strong, free of any celebrity author shortcuts, and if the prose is somewhat unspecial, it also leaves the characters room to breathe for themselves. He perfectly captures the urgency and tirelessness of young ambition in NYC (as well as handy examples of how to work a room and manipulate powerful people!) and the trajectory of the story is also a thoughtful rendition of US economic history over the ...more
Jun 18, 2011 Malbadeen rated it liked it
Bonnie Brody
Feb 28, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like An Object of Beauty: A Novel. The book itself is lovely to look at. It has a wonderful cover, art reproductions inside, and even the quality of the paper is great. I enjoyed Shopgirl: A Novella and it was with great anticipation that I started this book. It was downhill from page one.

The book is a first person narrative told by Daniel about his friend Lacey Yaeger. Lacey is in her early 20's when the book begins and is close to 40 when it ends. She starts off her art care
galley from BEA

Started 11/19/10
Threw in the towel 11/24/10

Read 162 out of 292 pages

Oops. I did it again. I quit on another book.

At least I didn't wait until I was 20 pages from the end this time, right?

What has gotten into me? This is so unlike me. I've said it before, and I will say it again. I just do.not.give.up.on.books. (except, well, that I do now, apparently!)

This is a book I snagged at BEA10. It might have actually been the 1st book I snagged, to be honest. I adore Steve Martin, and have
Mar 09, 2011 Diana rated it liked it
It was fun to read about the contemporary art market in NYC in the last art bubble, and Martin is great in his dead-on descriptions of people, organizations, deal-making, gallery openings, and the contemporary art world in general. But this didn't outweigh the fact that I couldn't stand the 'voice' of the narrator. It is never really clear why he knows all the things he knows, and it was annoying that Martin chose to use the narrator to key readers into the fact that Martin knows this world, ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Edmole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Throughout this book I felt guilty, as I did not enjoy this book on any level, but I love Steve Martin on many levels. It was like going to a friend's gig which is not too hot, and you can't shut off the critique centre of your mind. Thankfully, I did not have to have a pint with Steve Martin after, with him asking "So... what did you think?".

It's about the upward arc of a woman making her way in the world of art dealership. She is as vapid, unlikeable, phony and gimlet-eyed as the art world she
Aug 12, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok
It's not that this book was bad. It's just that its content didn't interest me. It was an interesting insight into the art world and the lives of people who have excessive amounts of money to spend. Also, I couldn't stop imagining Steve Martin as the author, which reminded me of watching a movie and then being unable not to imagine Leonardo DiCaprio as the main character while reading the book.

Favorite line: "Her knack for causing heartbreak was innate, but her vitality often made people forgive
Feb 08, 2013 Eh?Eh! rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babble-added
Interesting description of the art world and collectors. Unlikeable main character, i found her unrelatable, described as being vibrant and funny but the scenes intended to demonstrate these were not successful - so awkward in a way that makes me wonder if it needed a physical context like Steve Martin's humor. Felt like a less successful reworking of Shopgirl except she doesn't grow. She doesn't come across as a real person, just a vehicle for the industry and times.

Still, I liked the novel. Th
Apr 03, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Actor/author/musician Steve Martin is multi-talented to say the least. Sure he’s known for his funny guy films in the late 70s/ early 80s, but I really like his more serious turns such as in Shopgirl with Claire Danes [based on the novella that Martin wrote]. I recently went to an exhibit at the MFA [I think it was Edward Hopper] and Martin had loaned one of his own paintings to the exhibit. I read [or listened to] his memoir which recounted his early days of stand-up. Steve Martin is definitely ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
It's true, I like Steve Martin's books. I like that this made me interested in lots of art world details that normally I couldn't give a hoot about. And how the real world and events in it (of the 90s etc) impact it.

I love that it was read by Campbell Scott (is he one of the best audiobook readers ever? Yes. Yes he is. Good at it AND you can remember how cute he is whenever you hear his voice), who is clearly a favorite for Steve Martin book reading.

Story = told from the POV of a Nick Carraway
Apr 03, 2015 Alena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that there's very little plot for the first 2/3 of the book and its narrator seems emotionally removed, this book drew me in to the New York art world. The story spanned almost 20 years, including 9/11 and the docom bubble, but wasn't "about" either of those things.

At its core, Martin is exploring art -- as beauty, as commerce, as desire, as object. The characters and plot (although both complex) are secondary to that exploration.

Not sure why, but I like it. Probably helped that
Mar 17, 2012 ☮Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book for its intelligence and originality. Steve Martin has been an art collector for years and his knowledge of the subject shines through here. My experience is limited but even so did not feel that I was in over my head as the book traversed the art world in New York from the 90's to 2009. The main character is Lacey Yeager, a beautiful, smart, shrewd businesswoman who steps over anyone to gain success, first at Sotheby's as a nobody, then finally owner of her own galleries. This ...more
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The Book Club: December 2015 Pre-meeting notes 6 2 Dec 13, 2015 04:32PM  
.:.Book Bodega.:.: Comment As You Read | An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin 6 6 Sep 14, 2014 07:57AM  
Who would you cast as Lacey? 22 156 Dec 28, 2013 01:26PM  
Gwinnett County P...: An Object of Beauty 1 4 Nov 20, 2013 01:27PM  
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Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. He was raised in Southern California in a Baptist family, where his early influences were working at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm and working magic and comedy acts at these and other smaller venues in the area. His ascent to fame picked up when he became a writer for the Smothers ...more
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“I have found that-- just as in real life--imagination sometimes has to stand in for experience.” 84 likes
“You want to know how I think art should be taught to children? Take them to a museum and say, 'This is art, and you can't do it.” 52 likes
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