B.A. Shapiro does it again as she delivers another engrossing, visual and stimulating novel of not only the inner-workings of the art world, but also of the political times of depression era, pre-WWII America. She seamlessly melds her fictional main character, Alizee Benoit, with a multitude of factual characters as she leads the reader into the world of the early believers in Abstract Expressionism (Pollock, Krasner, Rothko), the WPA in the late 1930’s (Eleanor Roosevelt), the U.S. immigration/political refugee policies (Breckinridge Long) and the anti-Semitic feelings that ran deep in the U.S. during that time. Through all of this she also tells a poignant multi-generational story of a Jewish family that is spread across German occupied-Europe and the U.S. through both Alizee’s voice and her great niece Danielle, who is also an artist, but she has set her brushes down and works as a low level archivist at an auction house. Both women begin a journey that culminates in an unexpected way. Not only will the reader be satisfied with this novel, but hopefully it will spur them on (as it did for me) to do more research about the factual artists, politicians and the time frame the novel takes place in.— Lynn Pellerito Riehl - Event Manager
When Alizee Benoit, a young American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her arts patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends and fellow WPA painters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who, while working at Christie's auction house, uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?
Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of New York's art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism.
As she did in her bestselling novel The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro tells a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizee and Danielle she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask: What happens when luminous talent collides with unstoppable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world?