Author: Miranda Glover
Puplication information: Bantam Press (2005)
"In an audacious stroke, celebrated British artist Esther Glass puts herself up for sale by auction at Sothebys, as a living masterpiece, to be owned by the highest bidder for a week. For each day of her possession, she will perform as one of seven iconic women, themselves the subjects of great paintings from the past: Christina of Denmark by Holbein; Olympia by Manet; Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael; Madame de Sengonnes by Ingres; Mrs. Leyland by Whistler; Isabella D’Este by Leonardo da Vinci; and, Judith and Holofernes by Klimt. Esther’s extraordinary art adventure takes her to major European galleries and the Frick in New York to research her seven selected masterpieces. Once sold, she goes to Manhattan for her week of ownership. There she is forced to confront financial corruption by her dealers, the instability of her relationships with her lovers and, on her return to London, her own intrinsic values as an artist, daughter and woman."
The premise of this book was what drew me in beyond the cover. Being an illustration student, I am really interested in art and fine art especially so the historical elements of this book were a highlight for me, backing up Esther's decisions throughout the story. Although the plot was good, I think that the book was a bit slow for me. With 377 pages, it is an average sized novel but I think that some of the points were not needed and if they had not have been included, there would have been a more interesting mystery surrounded the protagonists past. Despite this being quite a slow read, I was interested from the start and due to the small chapters, I did just keep reading on.
The characters were slightly under-developed but I think that on the whole they were all very individual and in some ways relatable. Esther, the protagonist, has the same traits as most arty-types, being quite an introverted person when it came to her emotions and passionate about her projects, but on the other hand, she is a very head-strong character and in some ways this helps the reader to relate to her a lot more.
The writing in this novel was wonderful and easy to read. As it is told from first person perspective, you get inside the head of Esther Glass and the way it is written reflects this personal approach to story telling. I like that historical details were included in this novel because this added extra dimension and although some facts were embellished, this made you connect more with the masterpieces as Esther does throughout the story.
Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because although I enjoyed it, I found it quite slow but interesting all the same. I really like the cover of the book as it reflects the plot perfectly and the inclusion of the paintings on the inside of the particular edition that I bought made it easier for me to visualise the paintings as Esther describes them.