World War II, Paris, and The Art World

Barbara's picture

I love historical fiction. Sara Houghteling’s sweeping debut novel, Pictures at an Exhibition, draws on the real-life stories of France’s pre-eminent art-dealing familes and the forgotten biography of the only French woman to work as a double agent inside the Nazis’ looted art stronghold. The novel tells the story of a son’s quest to recover his family’s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation. Artists and their world, romance, secrets, betrayal, historical background -- sounds like a reading group/book club pick! 

Praise for Pictures at an Exhibition

“Houghteling’s vivid descriptions of paintings and their power add to the allure of this impressive debut novel.”–Michael Leber, Booklist

“Exciting . . . Houghteling has immersed herself in the history of the period, and her love of these paintings shines through.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Houghteling received a Fulbright to study paintings that went missing during the war, and the detail shines through in this first novel, which effectively depicts the new reality for Jews in postwar Europe.” –Amy Ford, Library Journal

Chapter One
First paragraph

"In the twilight of my life, I began to question if my childhood was a time of almost absurd languor, or if the violence that would strike us later had lurked there all along. I revisited certain of these memories, determined to find the hidden vein of savagery within them: the sticky hand, the scattered nuts, the gap- toothed girl grasping a firecracker, a cap floating on the Seine, flayed legs swinging between a pair of crutches, the tailor and his mouthful of pins. Some of these were immediately ominous, while others only later revealed themselves as such. However, whether or not another boy living my life would agree, I cannot say."

Now, that's a teaser! Paperback release, February 2010.

Do you like historical fiction? Can you pick a favorite?


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