I don’t know what I was expecting from The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro, but I got more than I was expecting. I really enjoyed reading it. It tell a great story that weaves fact with fiction, and history with intrigue. I had feared it would veer too much to the behind the scenes, inside of gossip of the art world, but instead it invented a world of secrets, lies and mystery.
The Muralist focuses on a fictional artist, Alizee Benoit and her involvement in the WPA in the late 1930s. She rubbed shoulders (and more) with all the important New York artists that we now associate with that time – Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and William De Kooning – and her life gives the reader insight into the make-work projects that stifled the creative impulses of artists but also gave them money to survive through the Depression.
The real intrigue, however, comes from Benoit’s attempts to free her Jewish family from France in the years leading up to WWII. The Muralist shows how prevalent antisemitism was in the United States and how difficult it was to get people out of Europe. And of course her struggle is depicted in her art in really interesting ways.
Who would like this book? As I said, I’m surprised by how much I liked The Muralist. Shapiro knows how to weave facts and fiction together to make a great story. I’d recommend it to anyone who just likes a good story, or is interested in the early years of WWII in the United States. The insight into the art scene in New York is also really impressive. I remember in 2013 when The Art Forger by Shapiro came out and I’m definitely going to go back and read it.
I’m glad to hear you liked “The Muralist”! I read “The Art Forger” right after it came out and really enjoyed it. I learned so much about the art world! This book sounds like it’s got a totally different but equally intriguing plot.
Glad to hear The Art Forger is good too. Can’t wait to get to it.
Okay good, you liked this one – I’ve been eyeing this one – and I can get it on audio so I might try it out that way first.
This sounds like great historical fiction! I like that covers an aspect of the war I’ve heard about – antisemitism making escape to the US difficult – but not read much about yet.
I’ve seen this one but I wasn’t sure — so I’m glad you reviewed & liked it. I’m intrigued by the premise.
Great premise and we’ll executed. And it is very timely – refugees trying to escape bad situations only to have doors shut in their faces due to their religion.
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