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The Forger

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  311 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
An exciting new novel, by the author of The Story of My Disappearance and Archangel.

At the turn of World War II, David Halifax is a young American painter who receives a scholarship to come to Paris and work under the tutelage of the mysterious and brilliant Russian painter, Alexander Pankratov. Getting more than he bargained for, Halifax is quickly subjected to Pankratov'
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 4th 2000 by Picador
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David Halifax is an American art student who wins a mysterious scholarship to study in a Parisian atelier under an “enigmatic” white Russian teacher in 1940. Pankratov, the teacher, has inexplicably destroyed all his own paintings and is now engaged in making forgeries of old master paintings. It’s never really explained why he has destroyed his own work. Pankratov also has a daughter who models at the atelier and who hates him. Again we don’t understand why she hates him. When war breaks out Ha ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Erika rated it liked it
A librarian recommended this book to me saying that the story was compelling and that the prose was "spare". I was intrigued by the description, but even more intrigued by the concept: an unassuming American artist enlisted to make forgeries of famous paintings to give the Nazis in order to save some of France's cultural history. As an art history major, I gobbled this up, but that is where the "spare prose" left me wanting. I wanted to "see" the art and the techniques in the writing, but Watkin ...more
Feb 24, 2010 Amanda rated it did not like it
So much build up for a main plot that was almost entirely glossed over in flash forwards...
Pregevole romanzo storico ambientato totalmente a Parigi ai tempi dell'occupazione nazista e narrato in prima persona dall'artista americano David Halifax. Lo studente d'arte si ritroverà a dover dipingere dei falsi quadri (poi invecchiati dal geniale amico e maestro russo Alexander Pankratov) il tutto nato da un equivoco. Storia ironica e ben scritta che vi consiglio.
Oct 22, 2008 Tania rated it liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
quotes#612731 The Forger

"You were a painter. A great one, from all I hear."
"All right," he said. "Maybe I was good. But I exhausted myself. I got so tired in here" - he bounced the heel of his palm off his forehead. "Some days, I would set up the canvas and stare at it for an hour and then be so exhausted I'd have to go back to bed. But with restoration, it's different" - he drew his fingers close together, like a man learning to pray. "It's about the creation of the paint itself. Using only tho
Julie Dolan
Jan 08, 2014 Julie Dolan rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Over the last few years I've read a number of novels set in and around Paris during WWII. Having lived in Paris in the late 1980s, books placed in city draw my in. With this book I was often wanting to pull out my street guide and walk along with David to see what he did. It is a book very much of it's setting.

The book is a fascinating look at another aspect of the war. These weren't soldiers, victims, or people in the resistance involved in espionage or destruction. It was a whole different du
Chelsea Fleming
I LOVE this book! It is an adult book vs. young adult- so it may be a difficult read for some, but I think it is worth the challenge. Action and suspense right along with art history, Parisian culture, and WWII. Good historical fiction!
Oct 09, 2016 Val rated it it was amazing
On occasion you encounter a book so lyrical you want to linger on every word. "The Forger" is such a book. Usually I skim through all the endless descriptions by writers of buildings or locations, even bit characters who I know won't figure into the narrative later. But Paul Watkins does with words what Beethoven did with notes on a scale. He has composed such an eloquent symphony of phrases I found myself drawn toward each paragraph, sure that the next would be even better than the last. And so ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Set in Paris six months before Germany invaded France, Watkins did a masterful job meshing the history of WWII and the struggle to save French art from Nazi ideology. The tension in the story will keep you turning the pages.
Aug 28, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Halifax a young American art student accepts a scholarship that he hadn't applied for from a group that he had never heard of to study painting in Paris in 1939 just as Europe is about to plunge into war. Once in Paris David is taken under the wing of a once famous Russian artist Pankratov and miss enigmatic daughter Vanya. However,he also falls under the malign influence of an unscrupulous art dealer called Fleury who sells some of David's sketches of Old Masters as originals initially wi ...more
Breeann Kaczmarczyk
Jul 21, 2008 Breeann Kaczmarczyk rated it it was amazing
This book follows a young man in an art class in Europe during World War II. As the war picks up, it turns out that his art teacher is forging very valuable paintings to sell to the Nazis. The young painter learns to do the same thing. It is such a fast-paced book. I couldn't put it down! I've read it over and over again!
Dec 31, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Set in Paris in 1938. A young artist wins a trip to Paris to study art. He ends up helping his Russian teacher forge copies of great paintings to sell or trade to the Germans. Very exciting and believable likable characters.
Nov 17, 2007 Christine rated it it was amazing
An intriguing story of a young painter in Paris during WWII. Instead of just learning to paint, he's recruited to forge great works of art to help hide them from the Nazis. A story that combines art and suspense.
Moke Iv
Apr 21, 2014 Moke Iv rated it liked it
Builds to a suspenseful conclusion while weaving an intriguing plot full of realistic characters. There are some slow parts, however, and I did not enjoy the epilogue; it felt cheap and rushed. An interesting read, but a little plodding in the middle.
Francesca Tronchin
Nov 22, 2014 Francesca Tronchin rated it liked it
Shelves: art-crime
I enjoyed it, but Watkins could have used an editor. The book wandered around a bit in the first half before getting to the more compelling bits in the second. As such, the energy felt somewhat cramped and rushed toward the end.
Jun 05, 2009 Rachael rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished
It was interesting, maybe a bit slow paced. I finally skipped to the end and it was ok. I can't just trudge through ever book I start. There are so many books out there to read, and definitely not enough time for them all.
Apr 16, 2012 Heatherjoy rated it it was ok
so much wasted potential here! It really frustrated me! He had such a truly remarkable story to tell that was really hindered by his lack of writing/story telling ability. This would make a great movie though!
Feb 18, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
No surprises, kind of slow going, and a fairly obvious plot hole toward the end. Still, an interesting historical novel.
Mar 20, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
An American artist in Paris just before WW11 breaks out is caught up in a plot save French art from the hands of Hitler. A fast paced read about the art world and WW 11 history.
Gail Strickland
Apr 08, 2014 Gail Strickland rated it liked it
Informative, in a plodding sort of way, about the effort to save paintings in France from the Germans.
Mar 09, 2014 Paul rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have ever quit reading before finishing. After 100 pages reading it felt like a chore.
Beth Wilhelmson
May 19, 2014 Beth Wilhelmson rated it it was ok
Interesting subject but very boring read, this book just did not hold my attention, tedious to read. One of few books I did not finish.
A. Somers
Sep 04, 2014 A. Somers rated it really liked it
If you enjoyed the movie Monument Men, you will like this fascinating story about artists in France during World War II racing to save as many artworks as possible from the hands of the Nazis.
Feb 21, 2010 Bill PETTIT rated it really liked it
Perfect: guns, Nazis, paintings and forgeries.. Paris before during and after the war, I cried a bit at the end.......
Feb 24, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
An interesting story if you are an artist or know art history. There were some great descriptive one liners also. (One guy's hair was described like the smoke after a bomb went off.)
Sep 25, 2009 Jennie rated it it was amazing
I really liked the characters and plot of this book. Very interesting take on ethics and inspiration.
Grace rated it liked it
Feb 11, 2011
Nocturnal Reads
Nocturnal Reads rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2014
Miles Kelly
Miles Kelly rated it liked it
Aug 03, 2014
Cindy rated it liked it
Feb 07, 2008
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Paul Watkins is an American author who currently lives with his wife and two children in Hightstown, New Jersey. He is a teacher and writer-in-residence at The Peddie School, and formerly taught at Lawrenceville School. He attended the Dragon School, Oxford, Eton and Yale University. He received a B.A. from Yale and was a University Fellow at Syracuse University, New York. His recollections of his ...more
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