A troubled past in “Marsh Queen” in Florida; ‘Fake’ a real art world mystery – Sun Sentinel
“The Swamp Queen” by Virginia Hartman. Gallery, 384 pages, $27
Virginia Hartman dives into a well-traced beginning with “The Marsh Queen,” delving into family issues, coming to terms with her past, and the beauty of birds amid the lushness of Florida’s back roads, swamps, and waterways.
During an eight-week leave for a family emergency, Smithsonian bird artist Loni Murrow will come to terms with the death of her father when she was 12, her mother’s impending dementia and her boredom of being back in his small hometown.
Loni still remembers the morning her father, Boyd, a fish and game officer, left their home at the edge of a swamp just outside the Panhandle town of Tenetkee. He died later that day in what was officially called a boating accident, but it was more likely a suicide.
Loni adored her father and is still unable to understand why he would leave her, his beloved wife, Ruth, and 6-month-old son, Phil. Now, 25 years later, Phil needs her to come home to help their mother who has broken her wrist and may need to move into an assisted living facility.
Going through her mother’s possessions brings Loni a flood of memories, particularly of her father’s death, further prompted by a letter found at Ruth’s house. But those who knew Boyd are either reluctant to talk about it or scared. A growing series of vandalisms aim to force Loni back to Washington.
“The Marsh Queen” poignantly addresses the idea of how little we know about our parents’ lives before they had children, and how complicated life and people are. “Double-edged sword,” Loni says, remembering how “a difficult grandmother led . . . to a career [she loved.]His own “petty prejudices” lead him to assume that a nice man who works with his hands is uneducated. “The Marsh Queen” also deftly explores nature through the grasses Ruth cultivates, the birds Loni draws, and the waterways of Florida.
Readers will look forward to more novels about Loni and Hartman’s elevated view of Florida. “The Marsh Queen” is a solid start.
Meet the author
Virginia Hartman will discuss “The Marsh Queen” at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Palm Beach Book Store, 215 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach, 561-659-6700, thepalmbeachbookstore.com.
Hartman will also be among the Miami Book Fair authors, miamibookfair.com. Hartman will participate in a panel on Florida Mysteries with Sascha Rothchild, “Blood Sugar” and Deb Rogers, “Florida Woman,” at 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at Miami Dade College/Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Second Floor, Room 8202 .
“False” by Erica Katz. Harper, 309 pages, $26.99
While the artwork evokes beauty and creativity, it can also lead to fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering and other schemes, providing a decisive background for a young woman looking crossroads of his career in the ever-accelerating “false” of Erica Katz.
Katz’s second novel works well as a story about passion for his job, blocked dreams, and finding his courage.
Emma Caan has long wanted to be a serious artist, the kind whose work is sought after by prestigious galleries and museums. But his paintings were described as “not exceptional”. Technically superior. Emotionally Detached,” by her Yale professor.
Instead, she transferred her skills into making immaculate copies of works by masters. Her perfect brushstroke replicas are difficult to distinguish from the originals, earning her a reputation as a sought-after copycat. These accurate replicas are not fakes, they are never meant to be passed off as the originals. And they’re legal, because Emma carefully signs the back of each canvas with her name, the title of the work, and the date she finished using permanent ink.
Clients of the company she works for, Manhattan’s Gemini Reproductions, include private owners who keep their originals hidden to thwart thieves or damage, and museums who need a replacement while the masterpiece is cleaned or repaired.
Billionaire Leonard Sobetsky, one of Gemini’s biggest clients who constantly asks for Emma, makes her an offer. He will help her become assistant director of an illustrious gallery if she works exclusively for him on the side, making exquisite copies for him. In two weeks, Emma is attending art society parties, meeting influencers and flying in Leonard’s private jet to an art fair in Hong Kong where she will negotiate millions in sales. Leonard also organizes a high-end apartment for Emma where she can work and live comfortably.
Emma is in love with her new life and can’t believe her luck, having gone from a tiny apartment she could barely afford and ramen to luxury and caviar.
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Katz skillfully shows just how intoxicating the life of Leonard and his friends is, and how Emma can very easily be swept up in this stratum of society – “salivating at the possibility of a different life at the scent of a single “.
Leonard’s world seems legit and Emma has no reason to doubt what she sees. But Katz immediately shows a shady sign as “Fake” begins with Emma being questioned by the FBI. Later interviews begin most of the chapters.
The hotly plotted “Fake” is driven by Emma’s personality, that thrill of being creative, and why art drives her. “Life is complicated,” a character says to Emma. “That’s why we have art. To help us see things more clearly. A subplot gives the “wrong” context, showing Emma’s dysfunctional upbringing, particularly her relationship with her unfaithful and emotionally distant father, who recently passed away.
“Fake” is a true piece of superior storytelling.
Meet the authors
Erica Katz will discuss “Fake” and Lisa Barr will discuss “Woman on Fire,” both delving into the dark side of the art world, with moderator Oline H. Cogdill beginning at 10 a.m. Nov. 2 at Mandel Jewish Community Center, 8500 Jog Road, Boynton Beach. The cost is $18. Visit JCConline.com/artsandculture to register.
Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at email@example.com.