Saturday 15 July 2017

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain @BelgraviaB @ed_pr

A collector unearths the find of a lifetime: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man uncannily like him. 

While wandering through a Paris auction house, avid collector Pierre-Francois Chaumont is stunned to discover the eighteenth-century portrait of an unknown man who looks just like him. 
Much to his delight, Chaumont's bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance. Chaumont remains convinced of it, and as he researches into the painting's history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand new life...

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain was published in paperback by Gallic Books on 27 June 2017.

This is another original, quirky story from the author of The Red Notebook which I read and reviewed here on Random Things back in 2015.

Antoine Laurain writes with elegance and wit, and The Portait is not just the story of a discovered painting, but is also an ode to France. The lead character; Pierre-Francoise Chaumont is extraordinarily crafted; he's a strange, self-obsessed man who is astounded when he comes across a painting in an auction house of a man who looks just like him. Paying far more than he intended to, he takes it home to his wife and proudly shows it to her, and their friends. He is shocked to hear that they can see no resemblance at all.

Pierre is not put off by their reaction, not in the least and starts a mission to track down more information about the subject of the portrait. However, his wife and his friends may have other reasons to scorn him ...

The author has created a character whose impulsive and unpredictable behaviour is both shocking and humorous at the same time. I wasn't fond of Pierre as a person, but as a wonderfully crafted character, he is pure genius!

A short novel that can be read quickly in just a couple of sittings, and is most enjoyable. I believe this is the author's first novel and whilst I did not enjoy it as much as The Red Notebook, it is very well structured, with some outstanding characterisation.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and the author of five novels. The President’s Hat, a charming fable set in the Mitterrand years, was awarded the Prix Landerneau D√©couvertes and the Prix Relay in 2012 and is published in English by Gallic. It was a Waterstones Book Club book and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine was chosen to represent France at European Literature Night 2014.

He is also the author of The Red Notebook (2015) and French Rhapsody (Oct 2016).

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  1. Somehow missed this one, so thanks for the review - added to my wishlist!

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a French author! :) I love the sound of this book!