Nancy Oakes's Reviews > The Portrait

The Portrait by Iain Pears
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's review
Feb 12, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: uk-fiction
Read in June, 2005

My advice to prospective readers: don't stop reading this book until the end. You may begin reading it, say "huh?" and want to put it down. But don't. The whole thing unravels the further you go and it is worth the wait.

The entire book is structured as a monologue on the part of the narrator, Henry MacAlpine. MacAlpine is a very much sought-after artist in early 1900s London; his work is mostly portraiture, well, at least the work that provides his living. His subject, visiting MacAlpine in his current home on a small island off the Brittany coast of France, is one William Naysmith, a highly-influential art critic who used to be one of MacAlpine's best friends. MacAlpine is now in a state of self-exile on this small island, but the reader does not find out why until the end. He has summoned Naysmith to his island to paint his portrait, and it is during the course of the sitting that the monologue occurs. As the sitting and the monologue go on, the readers learns about the history of these two individuals from MacAlpine's beginning as an artist through his self-imposed exile.

Trust me on this one. The book is extremely well written, and don't read it with getting to the end in mind. Enjoy the ride there...that's the crux of this book and it makes for a very unique reading experience. Recommended.
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04/18 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Cindy Finally got to this one, and I have to say, thanks for the review! So good!

dannymac Hmmm, I did put it down and was going to resume it some time in the future....thanks for the tip!!!!

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