The Muralist: A Novel

Don't miss B. A. Shapiro's new novel, Metropolis, available now!

"Vibrant and suspenseful . . . Like The Art Forger, this new story takes us into the heart of what it means to be an artist." --The Washington Post

"B. A. Shapiro captivated us in 2012 with her 'addictive' novel The Art Forger. Now, she's back with another thrilling tale from the art world." --Entertainment Weekly

When Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie's auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now-famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?
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368 pages

Average rating: 6.2




Community Reviews

Nov 16, 2023
4/10 stars
This was an intriguing book that entwines the lives of historical figures with fictional charters in a cleverly crafted story. Rich in historic detail, it traces specific events in two lives; Danielle, an art assistant at Christie's Gallery NYC in 2015 and Alizee, Danielle's great-aunt that suddenly disappeared while working as a young artist for the Works Progress Administration at the brink of WWII in the late 1930's.

I learned a great deal from this book; mainly about Roosevelt's WPA program and the beginning of abstract impressionist art and artists, which I knew close to nothing about. I was inspired to seek out images of the art and artists and to bake some delightful, delicious Pain d'Amande for my book club friends. It took me a few chapters to really get into the book but once I did, I was eager to continue reading at any free moment. Even though I didn't love this book as much as I hoped to, I still enjoyed it.

My thoughts are often drawn back into the story as I ponder the desperation felt by families trying to bring their loved ones to America before the war broke out, and it sadly occurs to me, given current day political affairs, that some things never seem to change. I am reminded of the poem written by Martin Niemoller, who had lived in Nazi Germany, a copy of which Malala Yousafzai states that her father kept tucked in his pocket:

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

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