Shapiro’s novels (The Art Forger, The Muralist) make me fall in love with art. In her writing the canvas is only one side of a multilayered story about art, artists, and the events that make history. In The Collector’s Apprentice, her characters are chameleons, shedding identities as they revolve around the magnetic works of post-Impressionist mavericks like Matisse and Picasso. Death, scandal, romance, and mystery drive the twists and turns of this thrilling novel that I absolutely could not put down.
November 2018 Indie Next List
“What enormous fun Barbara Shapiro had in constructing this mini-universe of arts, artists, collectors, and grifters. Loosely based on Barnes Foundation founder Albert C. Barnes and his assistant, Shapiro’s fictional pair — Edwin Bradley, the collector, and the lovely but unlucky Paulien Mertens — flit from Europe to Pennsylvania and back in the 1920s. The joy of The Collector’s Apprentice is infectious as the reader is introduced to the salon of Gertrude Stein and becomes a voyeur of a passionate affair involving the great philanderer Henri Matisse. The Roaring Twenties, a whiff of the Talented Mr. Ripley, and a pinch of sex, murder, and mystery are the ingredients of this art thriller. With her bold brush strokes and vivid colors, Shapiro has created a Gauguin of a novel.”
— Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
"A clever and complex tale of art fraud, theft, scandal, murder, and revenge.” --Publishers Weekly
In this surprising, noirish page-turner, B. A. Shapiro once again takes readers into the world of art, glamour, and mystery. Accused of helping her fiancé steal her family’s fortune and her father’s art collection, Paulien Mertens has fled to France. To protect herself from the law and the wrath of those who lost everything, she has created a new identity. Paulien, aka Vivienne, takes a position working for an American art collector modeled after real-life eccentric museum founder Albert Barnes and quickly becomes caught up in the 1920s Paris of artists and expats, including post-Impressionist painter Henri Matisse and writer Gertrude Stein. From there, she sets out to recover her father’s art collection, prove her innocence, and exact revenge on her ex-fiancé. B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own, and once again she gives us an unforgettable tale about what we see—and what we refuse to see.
About the Author
B. A. Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger, which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction, among other honors. Her books have been selected as community reads in numerous cities and translated throughout the world. Before becoming a novelist, she taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She and her husband, Dan, divide their time between Boston and Florida.
“Shapiro delivers a clever and complex tale of art fraud, theft, scandal, murder, and revenge. [Her] portrayal of the 1920s art scene in Paris and Philadelphia is vibrant, and is populated by figures like Alice B. Toklas and Thornton Wilder; readers will be swept away by this thoroughly rewarding novel.” —Publishers Weekly
“Lush, atmospheric . . . Shapiro’s romantic and suspenseful art thriller will delight historical- and crime-fiction fans.” —Booklist
“B.A. Shapiro is back with a platinum potion of art, love, and scandal, set against the big backdrop of Paris between the wars. If you can put The Collector’s Apprentice down, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am. I read it in one sumptuous sitting. This is a big story, from a big talent.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
“Dazzling and seductive, The Collector’s Apprentice is a tour de force—an exhilarating tale of shifting identities, desire, and intrigue set between 1920s Paris and Philadelphia. Shapiro is a master at melding historical and fictional characters to bring the past alive on the page, and in The Collector’s Apprentice she has forged an exquisite, multilayered story that maps the cogent and singular fire of a young woman’s ambition and the risks she will take for the sake of art.” —Dawn Tripp, bestselling author of Georgia
“I was engrossed in every twist and turn in this compulsively captivating page-turner, all the way until its astonishing denouement. Shapiro has done it again!” —Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us
“A seamless blend of art history set against a wider historical backdrop.” —Detroit Jewish News
“In prose lush with post-Impressionist art history, Shapiro's intriguing novel presents a heroine either evil or sympathetic—until the very end.” —Shelf Awareness
“Shapiro packs her novel with intrigues and mysteries . . . Readers will . . . be charmed.” —Chapter16.org
“B. A. Shapiro delivers another dose of art history, wrapped tightly in a thriller.” —New York Journal of Books
“Shapiro creates a complex, detailed, and historically-accurate world, and the lack of any straightforwardly heroic characters, along with a superb depiction of the glamorous 1920s Parisian art scene, makes this novel a standout among dark, twisting historical mysteries.” —San Francisco Book Review