Official Review: The Copyist by Jack Karasch

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Rosemary Khathibe
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Official Review: The Copyist by Jack Karasch

Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 20 Oct 2018, 15:59

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Copyist" by Jack Karasch.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The novel, which took place in 1927 in Chicago, tells the story of Abel Moreau, a forty-year-old poor French man whose source of income is shoe shining. He was so poor that he sustained himself on little but bread and cheese to live through another day. On the other hand, Nathaniel Bosher (commonly called Nate), a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, felt that his canvases were not worthy enough to be hanged on the wall of the art museum.

Since Abel was talented at mirroring the paintings of the impressionist artists and the old masters, Nate proposed to sell some of his sketches in return for profit. The paintings included Claude Monet’s Pond At Montgeron, Matisse’s Dance and Music, Paul Cézanne's Mount Sainte-Victoire, Van Gogh's Young Girl In The Hague, and Toulouse-Lautrec’s Young Routy. The Copyist by Jack Karasch, classified as a historical fiction, lived up to its promise: almost every chapter contained the work of historical artists already mentioned. The sales for Abel's paintings and sketches were going splendidly. However, his work as a copyist did not last long. Nate requested him to be a true artist and create his own work. Having been a copyist for years, will he ever be able to paint a portrait of his own desire?

In the story, what I disliked was Abel's behaviour. He was a forty-year-old man with a mind of a child. For example, "Fearing a slap might be coming, Abel had flinched," and "Slowly, with the look of a boy about to be scolded and punished, Abel withdrew another canvas." I think if the author had at least diminished this character's age, I could have accepted his exaggerated behaviour. I was also curious to discover how Abel could finally see through his duplicitous business partner. However, the book ended with the poor guy still oblivious to Nate's motives. The worst part of it is, Abel could not stop giving gratitude to the latter. Nonetheless, this did not detract from the significance of the plot.

As a lover of romance books, I was thrilled to discover a touch of romance in the story. There was Nate's affair with Franny and Abel's relationship with Suzette. Like some relationships in real life, that of Abel and Suzette was slow-paced in a satisfactory manner. It gradually progressed until they fell madly in love.

Abel's knowledge of art also intrigued me. And to be honest, I knew little to nothing about art until I read this book. He vividly explained how it works and makes him feel. For instance, "Monet’s Impression Sunrise makes me feel as if I’m the man who stands in the rowboat upon the water." Again, The Copyist can be used as a tool to boost the spirits of artists who have given up on art or are on the verge of doing so. It effortlessly guides them on how to paint good portraits. What added more to my interest in the book was the fact that it was easy to read with no visible grammar errors. As a result, I am awarding The Copyist 4 out of 4 stars.

I recommend the book to readers of romance and historical fiction. It will also appeal to lovers of art, especially those who would like to know historical artists behind the greatest oil paintings to have ever existed in the century from 1800 to 1898. To people who envy art but lack the required skills to master a good painting, just remember, "Great art comes with maturity."

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Debjani Ghosh
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Post by Debjani Ghosh » 23 Oct 2018, 02:36

It's an unusual plot. Judging from your review, you enjoyed reading this book. However, I am not an art or history aficionado, so I will pass this one. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Ijeoma Kikelomo » 23 Oct 2018, 04:03

I also know close to nothing about art. I like the plot if this story and it promises to be an interesting read. Lovely review!

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Post by fredrick otieno » 23 Oct 2018, 07:31

What a nice review. This is my type of book and i would want to give it a try.
Combining romance, art and history really had to be well thought. Thumbs up for the writer.

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Post by kandscreeley » 23 Oct 2018, 07:38

I really don't know much about art, so this probably wouldn't be that appealing to me. Abel's behavior is rather interesting. It definitely doesn't come across as that of a 40 year old from what you have supplied. I think he would irritate me. I'm glad you were able to enjoy this, but I will pass. Nice review, though.
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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 23 Oct 2018, 08:18

Debjani Ghosh wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 02:36
It's an unusual plot. Judging from your review, you enjoyed reading this book. However, I am not an art or history aficionado, so I will pass this one. Thanks for the review!
Thanks for your comment 😊

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Rosemary Khathibe
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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 23 Oct 2018, 08:19

Ijeoma Kikelomo wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 04:03
I also know close to nothing about art. I like the plot if this story and it promises to be an interesting read. Lovely review!
It is really an interesting read. Thanks for passing by.

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Rosemary Khathibe
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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 23 Oct 2018, 08:20

fredrick otieno wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 07:31
What a nice review. This is my type of book and i would want to give it a try.
Combining romance, art and history really had to be well thought. Thumbs up for the writer.
Yes, the mixture is really intriguing. Thanks for commenting.

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Rosemary Khathibe
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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 23 Oct 2018, 08:25

kandscreeley wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 07:38
I really don't know much about art, so this probably wouldn't be that appealing to me. Abel's behavior is rather interesting. It definitely doesn't come across as that of a 40 year old from what you have supplied. I think he would irritate me. I'm glad you were able to enjoy this, but I will pass. Nice review, though.
His behaviour was really irritating. He just couldn't man up and stand for himself. Thanks for passing by.

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Post by Cardinalsparrow » 23 Oct 2018, 11:52

I'm a huge fan of historic fiction and this sounds like a very unique one. I'd like to read it and just how unique it is; if the handling of the romance seen it different.

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Post by Kajori50 » 23 Oct 2018, 13:03

I love anything relating to history. Also, the 20s was a really interesting decade. This book seems to be a great combination of history, art, and romance.

Thank you for the great review.

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Post by evan1995muniz » 23 Oct 2018, 18:48

I do not like history related novels. I do not think i will be reading this one anytime soon but thanks for your review.

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Post by Caylie_Cat » 23 Oct 2018, 18:57

This does sound like an enjoyable read with all the plots and sub-plots. I find I learn and remember a lot more historical and general knowledge when it comes as part of a great story. Nicely-written review!

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Post by Cotwani » 23 Oct 2018, 23:44

Though Abel's character is annoying, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Great review!
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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 24 Oct 2018, 00:20

Cardinalsparrow wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 11:52
I'm a huge fan of historic fiction and this sounds like a very unique one. I'd like to read it and just how unique it is; if the handling of the romance seen it different.
I recommend it, you won't be disappointed. Thanks for commenting.

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