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Old Masters

by James King

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literary, historical
list price: $12.99
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: 2014
publisher: Cormorant Books
  • Short-listed, Trillium Book Award
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English novelist Guy Boyd’s publisher forces him, against his inclination, to write an extremely well-financed biography of the late Gabriel Brown, an eminent dealer in Old Masters. Though the project is of little interest to the writer, he does his duty, going so far as to move into Brown’s manor in order to immerse himself in the man’s life.


What starts as a mercenary exercise turns fiercely personal when a shocking series of revelations about Gabriel Brown’s apparently paint-by-the-numbers career causes Boyd to question his own deep-seated beliefs about creative expression.


Written from the perspective of a biographer with a complicated relationships to his subject — who, in turn, drew equal parts inspiration and anguish from his own tormented muses — Old Masters is a refractive and reflective study of art and artists which asks, Who “owns” art? How do you define genius? What do you do when confronted with brilliance — do you surrender, or confront it head-on?

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Editorial Reviews

“King makes the irresistible combination of mystery and a laser-like examination of the fine art world serve to pose several provocative questions … The fascinating subjects and the author’s clear and elegant prose make the book a deep pleasure.”

— Vancouver Public Library community review

“Boasts a compelling, tightly-wound plot that still leaves room for ample introspection … No doubt aided in the writing of the novel by his own experience as a biographer, King proves to be up to the task of turning this dual character study into an entrancing page-turner.”

— The Silhouette
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Out of print

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