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The Portrait by Iain Pears
In The Portrait, Henry MacAlpine is a Scottish portrait artist who left the London art scene years before for isolation on an island off the Brittany coast. He's invited William Naysmith, the preeminent art critic in London whose reviews can end an artist's career, who at one time was MacAlpine's friend and mentor. Naysmith agrees to sit for the portrait so that he can find why MacAlpine left it all behind. This short novel from Iain Pears (An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio) consists of MacAlpine's narration, unfolding his tale of Naysmith's transgressions as the portrait takes shape revealing Naysmith's true nature. The Portrait has received positive reviews with BookPage saying, "While Pears' latest may not share the grand scale of his two previous intricately erudite novels, it would be a mistake to confuse brevity with lack of depth. Like the most potent works of art, The Portrait contains multitudes within its slender frame."