The Collector's Apprentice B.A. Shapiro from Algonquin Books //  Workman Publishing It�s the summer of 1922, and nineteen-year-old Paul...

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The Collector's Apprentice
B.A. Shapiro
from Algonquin Books // Workman Publishing

It�s the summer of 1922, and nineteen-year-old Paulien Mertens finds herself in Paris�broke, disowned, and completely alone. Everyone in Belgium, including her own family, believes she stole millions in a sophisticated con game perpetrated by her then-fianc�, George Everard. To protect herself from the law and the wrath of those who lost everything, she creates a new identity, a Frenchwoman named Vivienne Gregsby, and sets out to recover her father�s art collection, prove her innocence�and exact revenge on George.

When the eccentric and wealthy American art collector Edwin Bradley offers Vivienne the perfect job, she is soon caught up in the Parisian world of post-Impressionists and expatriates�including Gertrude Stein and Henri Matisse, with whom Vivienne becomes romantically entwined. As she travels between Paris and Philadelphia, where Bradley is building an art museum, her life becomes even more complicated: George returns with unclear motives... and then Vivienne is arrested for Bradley�s murder.

B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own. In The Collector�s Apprentice, she gives us an unforgettable tale about the lengths to which people will go for their obsession, whether it be art, money, love, or vengeance.

Paulien is aware that being banished to Paris with 200 francs in her pocket isn�t the worst of circumstances. But the city is vast and crowded and lonely despite all the noise and hubbub, not at all the way she remembers it. She wishes she were back in Brussels, filled with hope for the future, standing with her arms held wide as the seamstress made the final adjustments to her wedding gown. She looks down at the diamond on her ring finger. There is still hope. It�s a crazy mistake, which George will straighten out.

His telegram read: not as it seems. stop. going after swiss banker who stole all the money. stop. will come for you when succeed. stop. love always.

It pours the day she takes a bateau along the Seine, and she�s unaffected by either the Eiffel Tower or her walk down the Champs-�lys�es. Even a visit to the Louvre, a place of worship to her, leaves her as cold as the classical sculptures there. She worries about her parents and her brothers, wonders how they�re holding up, what they�re doing. She�s edgy and skittish, startles at every sound, searches every face for a sign of George or her father.

Clearly she needs something more absorbing than sightseeing. She decides she�ll look for a position in a gallery like the one she had in London after she graduated from college, gain a little more experience before she goes out on her own. George spoke about starting a new company. Why not here? It doesn�t matter to her if she opens her gallery in London or in Paris or in Brussels for that matter. She smiles as she imagines asking her father�s advice on which artists she should choose for her first show.

True, Papa and Maman were the ones who cast her out. He has destroyed everything we have been building for generations�and you brought him here, allowed him to do this to us, helped him! She can still hear her mother�s words. It is all gone. What we had, what you and your brothers and your children would have had. Everything that we are. Our name. Our proud name...

The memory almost doubles Paulien over. But Maman will soon discover that she�s worrying herself for no good reason. George will find the corrupt banker who cheated him and stole everyone�s money. Then her parents will see they were mistaken to believe that there never was a banker or that George is a crook and a con man of the worst sort. George would never swindle them, never swindle her, of this she is certain. Paulien dons the one stylish suit she managed to shove into her valise before she left, tilts her hat at a rakish angle, and sets out to find herself a gallery.


Books � la Mode is giving away a print copy of The Collector's Apprentice�yay!

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