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The Portrait by Iain Pears
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Feb 05, 2009

Who would have thought a 200-page monologue about art could be so fascinating? Yet Pears has pulled it off with panache. A little less sprawling and complicated than Pears's acclaimed An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio (*** 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. Though most reviewers bent over backwards not to reveal the "surprise" ending, the finale will not really come as a great shock. Still, Pears is no less learned, skilled, crafty, or acclaimed than the two men who sit at the center of this novel, and readers will relish a few hours in Pears's capable hands.

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


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