Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Talented Miss Farwell” as Want to Read:
The Talented Miss Farwell
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Talented Miss Farwell

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,845 ratings  ·  580 reviews
At the end of the 1990s, with the art market finally recovered from its disastrous collapse, Miss Rebecca Farwell has made a killing at Christie’s in New York City, selling a portion of her extraordinary art collection for a rumored 900 percent profit. Dressed in couture YSL, drinking the finest champagne at trendy Balthazar, Reba, as she’s known, is the picture of a wealt ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Custom House
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Talented Miss Farwell, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bernadette The deeper she got into her obsession, the less cautious Miss Farwell was. I think it builds suspense, knowing she is not paying as close attention. T…moreThe deeper she got into her obsession, the less cautious Miss Farwell was. I think it builds suspense, knowing she is not paying as close attention. The reader notices and perhaps worries about details Miss Farwell should be concerned about.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,845 ratings  ·  580 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Talented Miss Farwell
Mar 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Strangely, the money is the same whether you earn it or scam it. But the thrill is deeply embedded in the scam......

Emily Gray Tedrowe presents quite the feeding frenzy here. Just like blood in the water brings out the sharks, the smell of greenbacks switches on a little widget in the mind of a situation predator. And no matter what you have heard, The Talented Miss Farwell is a well-developed character study of the inner workings of a young woman tempted by fate. When you control the numbers, s
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 Art World Embezzling Stars --Now Available!

I must say that I rather enjoyed this one and the complicated character of Becky/Reba Farwell. Due to her struggling family farm equipment business and ailing father, talented math student Becky isn’t able to go to college. Instead she gets a job at the town hall in the accounting office.

As the years go by, Becky is promoted at work and becomes fascinated with the art world. She starts by buying art at local estate sales and later she becomes a big
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
This book’s premise was better than its execution. Becky Farwell lives two lives. Back in Pierson, Illinois, she’s the town treasurer and controller, managing the books in such a way to skim off increasing amounts of money to fund her art collection. Because in her other life, as Reba, in Chicago and NYC, she’s an art collector, a wheeler and dealer in the art world.
I can’t say this was an exciting book. It plods at times. We see Becky maneuvering herself out of multiple jams brought on by tryi
Giveaway Win!


There are levels to these things and if you're gonna compare a book to The Talented Mr Ripley and Catch Me If You Can than you better be on that level. The Talented Miss Farwell was not.

Becky Farwell is a loner who has recently lost her father. She doesn't have many friends and she's rather directionless. Until one day she sees a painting that just must have. She buys it and soon finds herself obsessed with acquiring more more pricey art pieces. But Becky has a problem,
Barbara K
I can think of two reasons someone would want to write this book, which is based on a real person and real events.

1. The author is interested in exploring how someone could choose to perpetrate a years-long embezzlement scheme against a municipality while watching the town deteriorate and its citizens do without. Certainly a lot could be made of this by a talented author with a true interest in the question.

2. The author is anxious to capitalize on a recently revealed scandal before any other b
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
From helping to run her father’s company when she was a child, Becky progressed to being a major art trader. Her art purchases were financed by embezzling millions of dollars from a small Illinois town where she was a trusted government employee. The title of this book is obviously supposed to make you think of “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. Do not be fooled by that. Ripley was an intriguing and charismatic sociopath. Becky is a charisma-free thief. It was not at all convincing that she could charm ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A whirlwind adventure of a book. I lived in New York myself in the 90s and like the talented protagonist of two names, was drawn to Soho and the art scene. Somewhat terrifyingly, it was not hard for me to understand how a bored girl from a small town might somehow fall into a second identity as a thief and glamorous patron of the art world. You’d think you could never understand how an understated girl from a small town could embezzle this amount of money. But the author does a wonderful job of ...more
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved The Talented Miss Farwell as a portrait of what drives a person to do "bad things" (here, it's embezzling in order to buy and sell art as that is Miss Farwell's (aka Becky and aka "Reba" in the art world) passion. She's moved by art but more than that, she's relentless in her pursuit of buying and then selling it, and ends up embezzling millions from Pierson, the small Midwestern town she lives in and where she's the beloved chief financial manager.

While The Talented Miss Farwell is good
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This title already has many long reviews here, some that give away the whole plot, so I won't repeat what has already been said. My favorite part of the story was the beginning chapters when Becky Farwell is a smart, hard working teenager who takes care of her father and runs his business. In a way, this is a feminist tale: a boy in the same situation wouldn't run into the obstacles that kept Miss Farwell feeling lonely and desperate for a little fun and excitement.
I'm picky about endings and t
So I didn't know going into it that The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe was based on a true story, once I did though that completely enhanced the story for me. I mean, who would think anyone (especially a woman *gasp*) would be able to pull off such a large crime and get away with it for so long? But be aware this is a book that you are going to want to read if you are looking for a very informative slow burn. Fast-paced this is not, but I found it fascinating to see the life this au ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
How often have you read a book about a character you couldn't bring yourself to like? How often, after reaching that conclusion have you been unable to drop the book anyway?

The Talented Miss Farwell has no redeeming qualities. She is greedy, self-centered, selfish and an accomplished liar. She has a thing for fine art. She buys it.
She lives two very different lives to maintain her art habit.

I hope you don't like The Talented Miss Farwell.

But, I bet you will read to the very last page to see h
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Becky Farwell was brilliant in math and made money during high school tutoring friends either for money, clothes, or shoes.

Her life wasn't easy, though. Her mother had died, and she was left taking care of her ill father so she felt she couldn't go to college.

What she did do was help her father with his failing business and work as the town's treasurer.

She does some shady things with the town's money because she had developed a love and obsession for art, and you know art is expensive.

We follow
3.5 stars
May 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, 2020
Becky Farwell grows up a lot through the course of The Talented Miss Farwell. Starting with her childhood, where she becomes an accounting whiz in order to save her family business and moves on to work for the town hall in her small town of Illinois. At some point, Miss Farwell begins to lead a “double life”, one of money and prestige as a well known art collector. She uses money that isn’t hers to fund her art collection and yet at other times, she’ll sell portions to do good deeds for those ar ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

This book had so much more promise than what was actually delivered. I loved the idea of the dual life and money fraud all embedded in the world of art. However, what we got was a fairly ho-hum story that basically just “talked” at you, stating “facts” and very methodically stating details. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen and nothing was ever delivered.

I am actually quite surprised that I even finished this book because the bottom line is that I found this truly boring.
Aug 31, 2020 marked it as dnf
Thank you to goodreads for the giveaway! I won a copy and was so excited to read this - a female con artist? I was looking forward to a book version of "American Greed". I couldn't get through this. Between the details on embezzlement and the art world, I was so bored. If you are interested in forensic accounting, art history, or art shows, you may enjoy this but if you're just looking for a fun, exciting thriller, maybe skip it. ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through Goodreads giveaways.

The idea and concept of the book were good and that is why I wanted to read it but I did not enjoy reading it. As stated the idea for the story was good and I did want to know what was going to happen but there was no depth to anything. Everything felt like a layout/outline to what the book should of been. There was no character depth or details in the story. It felt like when a new chapter started it took 3 or 4 paragraphs to understand what the
Maureen Timerman
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
As I began this book and met this smart young woman, Becky, as she is finishing up high school, wow. She is brilliant when it comes to math, and has been helping, or earning money, doing math papers all of her HS years, and she has taken over the management, or financial part of her father's business, so as much as she may want, college for this brilliant girl is not on the plate.
She begins her career with her local town, and again with her brilliant mind, she flourishes and advances, has she fo
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
As the finance officer of her town, Miss Farwell steals from the taxpayers in her community to fund a lavish double life as an art collector. And she’s not a very nice art collector either. She betrays a young couple she is mentoring and buys art she told them not to. She takes advantage of an art friend by buying a piece from her at a fire-sale price. Her stealing from the town also results in disqualification from a grant opportunity that would have helped her best friend’s son, who has specia ...more
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audiobook
If you lived with Becky Farwell in the town of Pearson, Illinois, you would think she really loves her community. After all, she is the local girl who stayed after high school and became an indispensable figure in local government. But what they don't know is that in the art world, Reba Farwell has come up through the ranks and is internationally known. What we know is that Becky has been laundering city money, taxes paid by her friends and fellow citizens, to purchase art and resell it. She has ...more
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most addictive books I’ve read all year.

The talented Miss Farwell reads like a mix of an uber-complex heist/financial scam novel blended with a love letter (well, perhaps a love/hate letter) to the art world of the 1980s.

For me, this was the ultimate page-turner of 2020. I found myself staying up well past bedtime to read and sneaking in a chapter anytime I had 10 minutes to spare.

Becky is a fascinating protagonist, a tragically flawed heroine of sorts. Or is she an anti-hero?

Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
QUICK TAKE: I don’t know about you, but #TheTalentedMrRipley is one of my favorite movies, as I’m a huge fan of stories about people with secret identities and ulterior motives climbing the high-society ladder. So when my friends at @customhousebooks asked if I would be interested in #TheTalentedMissFarwell by @egtedrowe (love a talented stranger!), a book about a small town con woman who takes advantage of her position in municipal government to launch herself into the wealthy and cosmopolitan ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishing for this eBook advanced reader’s copy.

I enjoyed this novel about Becky/Reba Farwell and the double lives she was leading. It was uncomfortable watching her descent into obsession and madness, and even to read the physical manifestations/ramifications of that obsession. I applaud the author for her research and ability to follow this character over such a long span in history, starting in the 1980s, with topics from local town finances, to art,
Jun 23, 2020 marked it as to-be-review
This is a suspense mystery. I won an ARC of this book from goodreads giveaway, and I will post a review as soon as I finish reading the book.
Dec 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Won off Instagram giveaway via the publisher:)

Intriguing enough to keep going till the end but 0verall just an "okay" read. Becky was well done but lacked the charisma I expected from a character who has done what she did.

Side note: I kept picturing Isla Fisher as Becky in my head.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Several years ago I read an unexpected delightful book called Maestra about a little sociopath who uses the art world as a cover for her various misdeeds. Maestra was completely trashy, and full of sex and murder, and intrigue. It ended up a fun book to read. When I was offered an ARC of this book by the publisher, I thought, "Why not?" hoping for another fun book about wheelings and dealings in the world of art and embezzlement.

Unfortunately, this book was no Maestra. Those who don't like to r
Krista theliterateporcupine
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up on a whim, and was glad I did so! This is the story of a woman who used her natural talents for evil and caused others to pay the price. While the reader definitely should not root for Miss Farwell, one can't help but admire her ability to cause an entire town to go bankrupt so that she could continue flipping priceless pieces of art.

Miss Becky Farwell was born and raised in Pierson, a small town in IL. Right from the start, it is obvious that she has a natural talent for b
Linda Quinn
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Becky Farwell responds to her tragic young life full of limitations by turning her talent for math and problem solving into a new "activity" at which she can prosper.. While I had empathy for her and her life choices this book was so brilliantly written that I just had anxiety throughout. I was never sure whether I was supposed to admire her or just be disgusted. ...more
Karen M
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Obsession leads to compulsion which, in this case, leads to a very good story. Can one become so obsessed with something that you can’t, and I mean cannot, stop? You tell yourself ‘just one more’ but you know there will be ‘one more’ and then ‘one more’ and you aren’t really fooling yourself. You tell yourself you can stop anytime but can you?

Rebecca, aka Becky, aka Reba, has an addiction. She has to feed it. No, it’s not the type of drugs you might think but it is definitely Becky’s drug of cho
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of my favourite movies of all time, and, as planned by the author of this book, this homage-like title pulled me in. It was just so engrossing I couldn't put it down. "Small town civic bookkeeper leads double life as international art maven", all on the town's dime. Becky Farwell is an engaging character, even as it is obvious from the very beginning that there is something askew with her moral compass. Her compulsive personality, whether it is acquiring artworks o ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Open Book
  • The Dark Dark
  • All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
  • Rabbit Foot Bill
  • Because She Loves Me
  • These Women
  • The Lightness
  • Uncanny Valley
  • The Henna Artist (The Henna Artist, #1)
  • Three Little Truths
  • The Devil's Harvest: A Ruthless Killer, a Terrorized Community, and the Search for Justice in California's Central Valley
  • The Passengers You Cannot See
  • The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border
  • Do You Mind If I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me)
  • Greetings from Somewhere Else
  • Precious You
  • Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
  • Lullabies for Little Criminals
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Emily Gray Tedrowe is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Talented Miss Farwell, Blue Stars, and Commuters. She earned a PhD in English literature from New York University, and a BA from Princeton University. She has received an Illinois Arts Council award as well as fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. A frequen ...more

Articles featuring this book

It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...
82 likes · 22 comments