Bookmarks Magazine's Reviews > Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling
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Apr 15, 2009

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bookshelves: may-june-2009

In this historical novel, Houghteling explores Fascism and humanism, unrequited love, and plundered art; it's a historical fact that most of the paintings Max searches for never resurfaced. Critics couldn't help but note that Pictures contains the promises and pitfalls of a first novel. Houghteling evokes 1930s and 1940s Paris, the one-of-a-kind paintings, and the chilling complicity of art dealers in crisp, descriptive language. However, reviewers diverged on a number of points. To some, Rose -- based on the real-life Rose Valland, a member of the French Resistance who recorded the Nazi theft of Jewish-owned art -- occupies the true center of the novel, while to others she remains a static presence. Similarly, some critics commented on unconvincing subplots and drama. Still, Houghteling is a writer to watch -- and her subject is never less than fascinating.

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

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