Masterpiece was one of those books that got me very excited about its subject. In the first month of 2022, I was thrilled to read four beautiful books, one after the other, and I thought that Masterpiece would not disappoint me. However, despite the magnificence of its subject, it was so ordinary, so simple that I couldn’t help but feel sad.
Masterpiece focuses on the life of the performance artist Esther Glass and her last performance, called Possession, and tells her recent experiences and change. On the one hand, she tries to explain the world of art and the world-famous works of art in her Possession series and the place of women in the art world. I say she tries to explain because I felt like I was reading a Wikipedia article instead of a novel; In fact, parts of it were so dull that I wished I had read the Wikipedia article.
The subject that made me read Masterpiece is Esther Glass’s portrayal of seven women in seven world-famous works of art in her latest work, Possession. In the auction to be held at Sotheby’s, the person who pays the highest price will have Esther Glass (that is, the seven different women she portrays) for seven days. As I was curious about how the artist could bring these works to life and what else the author could tell, I was very excited for Masterpiece, you see. However, both the characters were two-dimensional, and there were too many inconsistencies in the Esther Glass character. So I couldn’t take anything the artist did seriously.
But the truly awful part of Masterpiece was the ending. If the end wasn’t so bad, maybe my impression of the book could have been a little more positive, but while reading the last few pages, I thought that the author didn’t know what to do and got away from the whole book. Actually, when you look at the big picture, there is a connection, yes, but it is so far from the main subject promised to the reader that I thought that the time I spent on the book was wasted.
I can only recommend Masterpiece to those who are particularly interested in the arts because, to be fair, I have learned a few things. Other than that, I don’t think readers who want to read a good novel will happily read this book.
MASTERPIECE is a beautifully written, fast-paced page-turner set in the contemporary art scene featuring celebrated Brit-artist Esther Glass. In an audacious stroke, she puts herself up for sale by auction at Sotheby’s as a living masterpiece, to be owned by the highest bidder for a week. For each day of her possession, she will perform as one of seven iconic women, themselves the subjects of great paintings from the past.
(CHRISTINA OF DENMARK by Holbein, OLYMPIA by Manet, MADONNA OF THE PINKS by Raphael, MADAME DE SENONNES by Ingres, MRS LEYLAND by Whistler, ISABELLA D’ESTE by Leonardo da Vinci, and JUDITH AND HOLOFERNES by Klimt.) Esther’s extraordinary art adventure takes her to major European galleries and the Frick in New York to research her seven selected masterpieces. Once sold, she returns to Manhattan for her week of ownership. There she is forced to confront financial corruption by her dealers, the instability of her relationships with her lovers and, on her return to London, her own intrinsic values as an artist, daughter and woman.
MASTERPIECE gives us rare access and insight into the workings of the contemporary art scene – and examines the effects of self-obsession, celebrity and greed on the part of its key players. It comes at a seminal moment when the art of sensation has possibly run its course. Where can it – and our heroine – possibly go next?
Miranda Glover has published three novels with Transworld; Meanwhile Street (2009) Soulmates (2007) and Masterpiece (2005), which was shortlisted for the Pendleton May first novel award and translated into seven languages. She is currently developing a fourth, historic novel set in Italy. She has also recently co-founded Queenbee Press and launched a collection of short stories, The Leap Year, (Nov 2009) with 5 other female writers. They have experienced critical acclaim for the project and reached number 4 in the Amazon Short Story bestseller list. A second collection, with a working title, Ten Past Eight, is due for October publication.
Miranda also teaches and mentors emerging female writers in small groups and through seminar programmes. She is often invited to speak at writers’ forums and festivals. She has a publishing background in non-fiction; magazine, book and online content. She also produces print and online content for a creative consultancy. She has two children and lives in Somerset.
She is currently writing Lee, a novel about the life of the iconic American photographer, Lee Miller.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: