READ BOOK ♺ A Fine Imitation ♂

One of the things I loved about A Fine Imitation is the double meaning of the title On one hand it refers to the theme of trying to force ourselves to fit in a predetermined mold set by society On the other it refers to the art forgery that runs as a parallel storyline Readers can analyze the dual meanings of the title as they wish but those two themes really stood out to me I did find myself increasingly frustrated by the main character, Vera Longacre Bellington The book told Vera s story chapter by chapter through alternating timelines 1913 vs 1923 As I read through her life in 1913 I kept wishing I could just reach through the pages, grab her by the shoulders, and shake some sense in to her I wanted her to grow a backbone, stand up to her mother, recognize the bad influence of her friend, and for God s sake, be honest with Cliff In the 1923 storyline, I felt the same way but for completely different reasons She frustrated me so much yet I sympathized with her and kept hoping she would make the right decision about her life Whether she ultimately does or does not is up to the reader but I felt like the ending fit her characterization.Some readers will see that I felt frustrated by Vera and think it s a negative toward the book but it isn t Any time an author can make me feel toward a character, either good or bad, it is a credit to the author and a sign of a good book.My biggest frustration with A Fine Imitation was the ending surrounding the artist, Emil Hallon His story felt like it wrapped up too quickly and I didn t feel like I was given the time I wanted to really revel in his reveal and soak it all up I wanted at least a chapter or two that allowed me to process his background and identity I wanted of him in the end There was an epilogue which offered resolution to the story and the structure of the story and the epilogue made sense but I still felt like I wanted.Then again, that s a good thing too, right A sign of a good story is to leave the audience wanting , and I definitely wanted. He who is subjected to a field of visibility inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles he becomes the principle of his own subjugation Michel Foucault, Discipline PunishFoucault was the first to describe in meticulous, analytic, historical detail that pervading sense we feel to act in prescribed ways to discipline ourselves into conformity We do this, Foucault contends, because we are inscribed in fields of surveillance we are forever watched, counted, tracked, observed For example FB, this site GR , our credit card records, our dress, our jobs, even our photo albums these are all ways in which our lives are documented, all are records used to evaluate judge our worthiness standing F s insights always struck me as much devastating than dystopian visions of state surveillance For at least in that latter case, power asserts itself as an external force We thus have some chance of resisting it, at least psychologically or spiritually, if not materially These chances are shattered to dust by Foucault s panopticon, which sows the seeds of self modulation in our very psyches, and which thus teaches us to live, unquestioning, enmeshed in approved conventions and expectations A Fine Imitation is one story of escaping the dreary existence we lead when we chose to abide societal standards than our own will and passions Vera, a New York heiress, is trapped in a vapid world chock full of society functions, charity galas, the latest fashion, 8 course dinners, and so on and the like, but entirely void of friendship, personal fulfillment and love her husband, of course, only married her for the name and financial assets The structure alternates timelines in 1910 we follow Vera during her time at Vassar, and observe her failed friendship with Bea, a vivacious, spirited, earnest young woman Vera sold out her friend for the sake of remaining in society s good graces In the 1920s, we watch as Vera s marriage is derailed by her budding recognition that she has the power to escape her dreary existence The medium of this realization, of course, is the most cliched trope in the romantic playbook the handsome, mysterious, foreign, brilliant artist who sweeps Vera off her feet in his broody, artistic way.Mostly, I found this book as vapid as Vera s world of high society Vera is a timid, pathetic woman, an ardent devotee of Society she grovels to Mother, and patiently endures her husband s trysts for years No development of her character, not even those manifested in the contrived situations woven by Brock, convinced me that Vera s journey was plausible If anyone could have escaped her situation, in other words, I am quite skeptical that it would have been Vera.The characterizations in this book weren t the only thin, brittle elements The Gilded Age setting is barely visible, and not at all palpable basically, people drink at home dinner parties but can t do so out on the town, re Prohibition Era The romance is constructed out of 100% recycled materials the dreamy artist, the reluctant wife, the ways in which the point comes when she inevitably stops resisting, tearing his clothes off in fits of rebellion and passion.I was riveted for the first half before the story gave way to a full blown Harlequin Brock s language at first was literate if not literary and the story carried an aura of suspense hence, 1 to 2 5 But, the latter portion of A Fine Imitation seemed written carelessly, in haste, without any attempt at originality of plot, language, or characterization.Lastly, one significant detractor from my rating but, it s a spoiler view spoiler Vera runs off with the artist, who turns out to be a criminal forger They take on new identities, and lead comfortable lives as the artist becomes a set painter in Hollywood He provides so amply that Vera does not have to work, and she amuses herself by learning how to cook and such like Moral of the story shed it all, leave society s expectations behind to become a fugitive leave an unsuccessful marriage for risking a future with a creepy man you barely know, who could as well, in real life , turn out to be a serious criminal leave an empty life of not providing for yourself to have another man provide for you hide spoiler READ BOOK ♘ A Fine Imitation ☺ Set In The Glamorous S, A Fine Imitation Is An Intoxicating Debut That Sweeps Readers Into A Privileged Manhattan Socialite S Restless Life And The Affair With A Mysterious Painter That Upends Her World, Flashing Back To Her Years At Vassar And The Friendship That Brought Her To The Brink Of RuinVera Bellington Has Beauty, Pedigree, And A Penthouse At The Angelus The Most Coveted Address On Park Avenue But Behind The Sparkling Social Whirl, Vera Is Living A Life Of Quiet Desperation Her Days Are An Unbroken Loop Of Empty, Champagne Soaked Socializing, While Her Nights Are Silent And Cold, Spent Waiting Alone In Her Cavernous Apartment For A Husband Who Seldom Comes HomeThen Emil Hallan Arrives At The Angelus To Paint A Mural Above Its Glittering Subterranean Pool The Handsome French Artist Moves Into The Building, Shrouds His Work In Secrecy, And Piques Vera S Curiosity, Especially When The Painter Keeps Dodging Questions About His Past Is He The Man He Claims To Be Even As She Finds Herself Increasingly Drawn To Hallan S Warmth And Passion, Vera Can T Supress Her Suspicions After All, She Has Plenty Of Secrets, Too And Some Of Them Involve Art Forgers Like Her Bold, Artistically Talented Former Friend, Bea, Who Years Ago, At Vassar, Brought Vera To The Brink Of Catastrophe And Social ExileWhen The Dangerous Mysteries Of Emil S Past Are Revealed, Vera Faces An Impossible Choice Whether To Cling To Her Familiar World Of Privilege And Propriety Or To Risk Her Future With The Enigmatic Man Who Has Taken Her Heart A Fine Imitation Explores What Happens When We Realize That The Life We Ve Always Led Is Not The Life We Want To Have A Fine Imitation takes place in 1923 in Manhattan and tells the story of Vera Bellington, a member of Old New York society Vera is in a loveless marriage and feels trapped behind the facade she is forced to wear to uphold her prominent place in society The narrative switches back and forth from 1923 Manhattan to 1913 when Vera attended Vassar College and studied art and was involved in a scandal When an artist is hired to paint a mural in Vera s building, she becomes infatuated with the artist and her facade begins to wear In the end, she must make the decision to maintain her place in society or give up everything for love.This one started off slow for me, and I found the characters to be a bit contrived However, it was worth reading for the payoff in the end I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I received this book for free through LibraryThing s Early Reviewers I really enjoyed this book It was a well written story about a woman coming to terms with the fact that her life isn t what she wants it to be The only thing I didn t like was that it was a bit elitist The main character, Vera, is a rich woman from high society, so it s sometimes hard to feel bad for her. A Fine Imitation follows the story of Vera, a high society socialite, during her senior year at Vassar College in 1913 and in New York City ten years later The book alternates between the two timelines Early on we know that some scandal happened while she attended Vassar after meeting another student named Bea who isn t as refined as Vera We also know early on that Vera s marriage in 1923 isn t a happy one her husband is rarely home and when he is home he doesn t give Vera the time of day When an artist is commissioned to paint a mural in the pool room of the building where Vera lives of which her husband designed and owns , Vera is tempted to fill the void left by her husband when the artist begins to show interest in her.This story was a very quick and entertaining read It s very easy to see how Vera would eventually look for love and affection elsewhere after being in an empty marriage for ten years I personally found the 1923 timeline to be interesting, but the two do end up merging to complete the story of how Vera ends up where she does Although I never agreed with view spoiler Vera s affair with the artist, Emil, I was glad that she left her husband in the end He never loved Vera and only used her as a cover to hide the fact that he s gay Vera s mother was also intolerable especially when she told Vera that it was her husband s right to have an affair and that Vera just needed to learn how to deal with it hide spoiler A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock is a 2016 Crown publication I was provided a copy of this book as a part of the LibraryThing early review program.I love the 1920 s and really like books set within that time frame, which is what originally drew me to this book, not to mention that stunningly beautiful cover As it turns out the story switches back and forth in time between 1913, where our protagonist, Vera Longacre, attended Vassar, a liberal arts college, and 1923 Manhattan, where Vera is now a wealthy socialite, trapped in a loveless marriage While in school, Vera meets Bea, a young woman who lures Vera out of her staid shell, showing her a peek inside the world of art, and a bit of daring adventure, which also reminds her there are consequences to every action, which forces Vera to make a tough choice, one she will spend many years regretting Having made her choice, Vera is now living a life of luxury, her life filled with parties and events, but they all seem hollow when she returns home to her big lonely house, and to cold husband who only married her for her family name and connections But, her world is turned upside down with a chance encounter with her old school chum, a revisit to the murky world of art, and the introduction to a most mysterious French artist, Emil Hallan Soon Vera will question everything she s known, will take a good hard look at her life, and its substance, and will once find herself faced with a life changing decision Will she continue to live an empty existence or will she manage to make a great escape from the confines of her prison walls or will fear and duty and all the rules of polite society keep her chained up inside her ivory tower For a debut novel, this book is very well written, handling the two time frames expertly, and creating characters I could feel compassion for, as well as offer up a compelling story The only issue was the great mystery surrounding Emil was easily guessed at, but, that wasn t really a big deal for me, since I often suspect plot lines before they are revealed It s the reaction the characters will have to the situation that is the true mystery and I was seriously on edge wondering what Vera would do While things did seem to come to an abrupt end in many ways, I still found the conclusion satisfying, feeling like I was privy to an inside joke, a wonderful secret, and also loved the way Vera had the last laugh What a wonderful, peaceful way to leave this character, and a terrific way to conclude the story Overall, I enjoyed Vera s journey and her story and will be keeping my eye on this author 3.5 stars Vera Bellington seems to have it all beauty, a rich husband, furs, jewelry and a penthouse at the exclusive Angelus But her marriage is loveless and she vacantly socializes during the day and sits alone in her beautiful penthouse most nights Then a mysterious painter, Emil Hallan, is hired to paint a mural in the poolroom of the Angelus and brings Vera to a fork in the road that she must decide on She doesn t know if she can trust Emil, though she has her own secrets from her life at Vassar involving her best friend, Bea The book fluctuates from Vera s time in Vassar with her life with her husband in New York.I have always been under the impression that the women of the Roaring Twenties were daring, adventurous and defiant Vera couldn t have been less so I found her to be extremely shallow, only caring about society and her reputation I don t want to give away any of the plot for those who may enjoy this book I will mention one scene that I found particularly annoying but doesn t give anything away Her husband had called yet again and left a message with one of the servants telling Vera that he would not be home for dinner The servant asked Vera if she wanted to dine in the dining room She couldn t bear to sit in the dining room alone again so she told the servant that she had eaten a lot at lunchtime and would let him know if she needed anything She hadn t eaten too much at lunchtime so there she sat, lonely and hungry How very silly.There was really no suspense in this book, though it was insinuated that there was I figured out most of Emil s secret long before he revealed it And the brink of catastrophe that Bea supposedly brought Vera to at Vassar was certainly no catastrophe I didn t feel the love that Vera supposedly has for the painter, only her love of herself The characters are not fleshed out enough to ever really care about any of them Not recommended.I won this book in a LibraryThing giveaway, which I entered with the understanding that I would give an honest review after reading. 3.5 I love reading about the 20 s It s a fun escape and I m reminded how thankful I am to be living in an age where women have a voice and choices.A Fine Imitation is all about art The authentic and the forgeries It can also be applied to people It oscillates between 1913 and 1923 In 1913 Vera attends Vassar college where she befriends Bea Bea and Vera are in different social circles, but their friendship is strong The background is set up nicely as the novel unfolds 1923 is when all the action happens Vera is in an unfulfilling marriage, but to the unknowing it is perfect in it s appearance When she hires an artist, Emil Hallan, to do a sweeping mural above the pool in the building where she lives, he attracts her attention and slowly starts filling the void her husband has left Hallan has a mysterious past and is vague when talking about it As Vera digs in about his past and the authenticity of his art, she is faced with a near impossible decision Does she stay the course in a loveless, lonely marriage or live life on her terms When done right I have an enjoyable time reading books from this time period In the case of this book, it was done right I instantly felt like I was transported back in time I could see the clothes, imagine the conversation, and it was like I was in Vera s shoes and was experiencing everything as she was for the first time It was easy to see how she fell for Emil Her life while full of money and glam was not a happy one from the inside Her marriage to her husband was non existent Then there is Vera s mother, who is a controlling Nazi Whenever Vera was with Emil, it was like watching a butterfly emerge from their cocoon Because I was so immersed in this book, it was a quick read The ending was a great one.