A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
In contemporary times, a Philadelphia professor calls a colleague (who is an art scholar) into his locked study to reveal what he claims is an original work of the Dutch artist, Vermeer. The colleague argues against such a claim, but the man insists. He is in a bind because his father has confessed that he himself stole it from a Jewish home while he was working for the Nazis in WWII, but he cannot reveal such indicting provenance. Each succeeding chapter takes the reader farther back in history (à la the film The Red Violin) to reveal previous owners, right up to, the reader must assume, Vermeer himself. All owners are fascinated by the painting and yet must depend on its sale to save themselves or their family from financial disaster. The author explores the value of art. Is it entirely intrinsic, or is it monetary, or is it a bit of both? Vreeland manages to explore this unique idea in a poetic manner which is both compressed, yet expansive, a valuable topic for discussion. The novel is a timeless read, and I’m glad a friend recommended it to me long ago and that I finally took the time to read it.
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