Monday, September 12, 2011
By Michael Frayn
Martin and his wife and baby are off to the country to spend the summer while Martin is supposed to be working on his book. A neighbor asks his advice on some old paintings and Martin gets a glimpse of what he thinks is a lost Bruegel. The neighbor needs money and hopes his old paintings might be valuable. Of course, if the painting is a Bruegel it would be worth millions.
But Martin doesn't tell the neighbor. Instead he plots and finagles to get his hands on the painting himself, in the process doing tons of research on Bruegel in order to convince himself that the painting is what he thinks it is. But his obsession eventually alienates his wife and gets him tangled up with the neighbor's wife and the whole thing turns out to be an exercise in futility.
The book starts out pretty good and Martin's obsession is very understandable. And the tons of Bruegel information in the book is interesting too. But towards the last part of the book I lost interest and it sat for a couple weeks before I picked it up to finish it. The ending was disappointing and harsh.