December 4, 2017

Book Review: The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

A collector unearths the find of a lifetime: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man uncannily like him. While wandering through a Paris auction house, avid collector Pierre-Fran├žois Chaumont is stunned to discover the eighteenth-century portrait of an unknown man who looks just like him. Much to his delight, Chaumont’s bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance. Chaumont remains convinced of it, and as he researches into the painting’s history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand new life…

I so enjoyed The Red Notebook and couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Portrait. It is another fast read from Antoine Laurain but quirkier than its predecessor. Laurain explores the intriguing premise, which leads to strange twists. Like the protagonist in The Red Notebook, Pierre Francois comes across a mysterious object, a painting, whose subject and origin spark an obsession. The ending, however, was a bit ambiguous. Read one way and the tone changes to something very dark and not in keeping with the mostly light-hearted rest of the story. It begs to be reread and seen from a new point of view.

“Modern eyes? They have no soul; they no longer look up to heaven.  Even the most pure are only concerned with the immediate.  Vulgar lust, petty self-interest, greed, vanity, prejudice, cowardly appetites and envy. Those are the abominable emotions swarming in today’s eyes. We have the souls of notaries and cooks.  That’s why the eyes on the portraits in museums are so spectacular; they reflect prayers and tortures, regrets and remorse.”

1 comment:

  1. I loved The Red Notebook. I'll put The Portrait on my TBR list. Thanks for your fantastic review! I'll read it slowly based on your review.