The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

Gallic Books, 2017

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Challenge: Paris in July

The Portrait

I’ve had this novel to my to-read list for months. I’ve adored the author’s previous books (well, I adored The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook the most). I was excited to get my hands on this little novel. To my happy surprise, it popped up in my mailbox last week just in time for the Paris in July challenge I do each year.

I’m still waffling on how I really feel about this book. Going into it, I didn’t realize that this was Laurain’s debut novel. I think I might have tempered my expectations a little bit. Laurain’s writing style has definitely evolved from this first novel. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I did The President’s & The Red Notebook. However, there is a thread of the realistic-supernatural setting that’s marked his works. I think if the main character in The Portrait had been fleshed out a little more, this could have been an amazing book. it felt choppy, like it underwent heavy editing of huge portions of the story.

The Portrait is a story about a man consumed with collecting. Pierre-François Chaumont’s marriage is falling apart as his wife insists on relegating his collections to just one small room in the house. Sneaking out to an auction house during lunch one day, he comes upon an 18th century portrait of a man who looks exactly like him. Although he spent a fortune to acquire the portrait, the true cost of the portrait comes from its life-changing fit into Chaumont’s drab life.

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