My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Best novel I’ve read in a long, long time. Set in three time zones – seventeenth century Holland, 1950s New York, and Sydney in 2000 – the characters are linked together by an enigmatic Dutch oil painting and its forged replica.
A strong sense of place pervades the book. There is no doubt about where the action is occurring. You can see it, taste it, smell it. Three cities in three continents and Dominic Smith has nailed them all.
The writing is simply superb. Deeply evocative, and both rich and sparing at the same time. Every word is perfectly chosen; there are no lazy verbs or cliches to be found. And it’s all done with a light touch that will make you smile in places and wipe a tear in others.
Here’s one of my favourite passages, about octogenarian Marty who must fly from New York to loan his de Vos painting to an exhibition at the Gallery of New South Wales.
‘He carefully inspects his tan shirt and lined windbreaker that he’s kept on for twelve hours because Qantas likes to refrigerate the first-class cabin like they’re hauling steaks across the Pacific … The field vest with a thousand pockets is somewhere in his carry-on. When did an abundance of pockets become a matter of moral principle? He wants to be zipped up and buried in the thing. His final battlefield commission.’
Highly recommended – a literary novel with a heart.