Adventures in Reading

The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber (2008)
February 9, 2008, 4:51 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction
“Wilmot showed me that one, back in college; he’d written it out in his casually elegant calligraphy and had it up on the wall of his room.

Previously, I have mentioned that one of the perks of working at a bookstore are the free books and advanced reading copies (ARC) that are occasionally at our disposal. Recently we have been bombarded with these and quite a few of them have seemed reasonable interesting. To pepper my usual reading I have decided to pick up a few ARC copies at random. My first (partial) read was Michael Gruber’s The Forgery of Venus, which I believe is due out in April.

It was terrible. I only made it eight pages in before I opted not to bother. Before I continue, I will say that Gruber would most definitely not be a book I would probably pick up for myself. It is compared to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (a book I never finished and I hated the movie) and seems to be a member of the new art and literary historical theme in mystery and thrillers. So, if you like Dan Brown or have liked Gruber’s books in the past give it a try, but baring that in mind this is definitely not a book I would recommend.

What I could not bare is Gruber’s pompous and pretentious (there are no other words for it) writing style and by page two I had written “ass hat!” in the margins and forced myself to page eight. By page eight (and these are some more notes from the margin) I reflected that Gruber is smarmy and the language of the book is cumbersome, and, while obviously an intelligent man, he seems to very much want everyone else to be aware of this. Eight pages into the book and he has name dropped or referenced (this includes the opening quote) Conquest, Cervantes, van Gogh, Modigliani, Matisse, Vela’zquez, Hitler, Castiglione, Beckett, and Joyce.

What I have learned is to avoid books where the author selects to use the name “Chaz” for any characters and that despite my love for art history and literary references that I simply cannot stomach this new line of books in mystery. Hopefully the book improves but with so many wonderful books waiting to be read I was not going to spend any more time on this one.


What a funny, honest, refreshing review. :) Page two, huh? You mentioned not finishing the Da Vinci Code. I read it a few years back, and I remember enjoying it. But now, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember most of the book, and not even how it ended. I guess that’s one way to distinguish the “good” novels from the “bad”, at least on a personal level–if it sticks with us through time, then it must’ve been worth reading.

Comment by onlyanovel

onlyanovel: I am glad you enjoyed the review! I do hesitate when it comes to writing negative reviews. However, as my negative experience in reading is just as much of an adventure as my positive experience I usually go for it. On the Da Vinci Code, probably a good beach read but definitely forgettable. I think you have it right though that a “good” novel is “good” because it remains with us.

Comment by bookchronicle

I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy the book! I just read it yesterday (in one sitting) and loved it! Perhaps it was the fact that it reminded me so much of my circle of friends/artists and I happen to be very sarcastic by nature so didn’t mind the writing style at all. Here is a link to my review…

Comment by artifiedlady

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