Synopses & Reviews
Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.
"Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era." Publisher's Weekly (Nov.) (c)
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"Critics admired Steve Martin for being a Renaissance man—after all, there are few comedians and actors who are also serious (and successful) writers. And most agreed that An Object of Beauty, more than a simple comic tale, is both a smart satire and a serious novel of manners. Martin shares his ample knowledge of Lacey’s profession and the art world; indeed, his ruminations enlightened more than a few reviewers. Some critics, however, found the novel lacking. Complaints ranged from flat prose to a confused plot, a nearly invisible first person narrator, an unlikable Lacey, some tangential plot lines, and prosaic discussions of art. Still, even the detractors admitted that the book’s premise “is a good one, filled with all sorts of juicy potential” (Guardian). In the end, An Object of Beauty, enhanced by color reproductions of famous paintings, should delight most readers—art aficionados or not." Bookmarks Magazine
"This thoroughly engaging primer on the art world is unusual on a number of levels. Although the lead characters are unlikable, the novel is hard to put down, offers an enlightening explication of how the market for art is created, and includes photos and absorbing detail on many of the artworks under discussion. The narrator, Daniel Franks, is an arts journalist who relates the story of avaricious, amoral Lacey Yeager, who is willing to do almost anything to move ahead in the art world. After landing an entry-level job at Sotheby’s, where her stint cataloging dusty works in the basement helps develop her eye for good art, Lacey moves on to working in a gallery, where she makes many important connections among collectors and dealers before opening her own gallery in Chelsea. Along the way, she sleeps with artists, collectors, and, finally, an FBI agent who investigates malfeasance in the art world. This page-turner is likely to make readers feel like they have been given a backstage pass to an elite world few are privileged to observe. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The best-selling author draws on his experience as a renowned art collector for this clever, convincingly detailed depiction of NYC’s art scene." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
About the Author
Steve Martin is a legendary writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood, The Spanish Prisoner, and Bringing Down the House, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story, and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He's won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, he has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and a bestselling novella, Shopgirl, which was made into a movie. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker and The New York Times.