The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

  • by Dominic Smith
  • Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
  • 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A masterful new story charts the circuitous course of the sole surviving work of a female Dutch painter.
This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the audio's done.
In his award-winning earlier novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.
In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain - a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive.
As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.
This audiobook includes a reading group guide read by the author.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

This Story Definitely NOT a Forgery!

If you could sum up The Last Painting of Sara de Vos in three words, what would they be?

There have been a rash of 'forged painting stories' on the bookshelves in the last few years. All had a similar 'feel' to them, and as a painter myself, perhaps I bring a different 'ear' to the stories, than a non-painter listener. I found myself just not intrigued quite enough to excite me and in the end, they all lacked the 5-star spark.'The Last Painting of Sara de Vos', however, had my attention immediately. The description of the painting itself, the fullness of the main characters - all worked together to create a mood and 'palette' which was quite complex . . . and spoke to me as an artist. It 'rang true'. And I appreciated the smattering of Dutch history - revolving around the period in which the Dutch greats painted. I recommend this book highly, to artists and non-artists, alike.


What did you like best about this story?

The mood - all parts working together to the same aim. Each part, the works of art themselves, the characters, the plot - all seemed to take the stage to create a wonderful novel.


Have you listened to any of Edoardo Ballerini’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Edoardo Ballerini did a stellar job with this one. I believe I have heard him before - 'Beautiful Ruins', perhaps.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Extreme Interest? Does that count as an extreme reaction? :)


Any additional comments?

I don't know what I'd do without 'my' Audible. It takes one out of their own life and its troubles - and when I put down my iPod - I find myself able to address my own world anew. In this overly self-absorbed world, it is nice to have a respite to turn to. Thank you, Audible!

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- KarKinz

Profoundly Satisfying

I will read anything about forgeries, so I eagerly downloaded. I found this to be a very satisfying experience, both story and performance. The characters are drawn with detail and particularity. No one is perfect, but everyone is complex and felt true. There may be some implausibilities in the story, especially in the ability of a forgery to go undetected, but I overlooked them with ease. I really enjoyed the imaginings of the artist's life in 17th century Netherlands. And applause to the author for writing a marvelously, believably awkward sexual scene. I will check out Smith's other books.
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- Sparkly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-05-2016
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio