• Amanda Woods

The Collector’s Apprentice – B.A. Shapiro

The-Collectors-Apprentice-B-A-Shapiro

Photo Courtesy of Algonquin Books


The Collector’s Apprentice takes readers into the whirling world of art collecting in the 1920s. Paulien Mertens is only nineteen when she meets the dashing George Everard, but when things mysteriously fall to pieces she finds herself exiled to Paris alone and nearly penniless. Drawing on her education and previous work in the art world, Paulien pieces together a new life as the assistant to Edwin Bradley, an up and coming American art collector who seeks to open a museum near Philadelphia. As she weaves her way through Parisian society, Paulien meets wonderful people like Gertrude Stein, Henri Matisse, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. When George finally turns up, things are not as they seem, and Paulien is sent into a tailspin that nearly ruins everything she has built.

Shapiro’s new work tells the story of how one girl came back from the brink stronger, smarter, and braver than ever. It is part coming-of-age, part mystery, part heist novel. Paulien and George provide intriguing lenses through which we discover the events of the story. Indeed, all of the characters’s colorful descriptions paint a picture of Europe and America in the 1920s that is lush and many-layered. The plot thickens gradually, and the shocking finish does not disappoint.

I thoroughly enjoyed this foray into the art world and adored returning to 1920’s Paris, which, if you’ve read my reviews for Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald or Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with. While it did not always grip me the way Z and The Paris Wife did, I simultaneously identified and sympathized with Shapiro’s characters, and her storytelling is top notch. The nuggets of information are there for you to guess the ending, though I must confess that I did not, which a refreshing turn of events! I would recommend The Collector’s Apprentice to anyone who enjoys a good historical coming-of-age story or enjoys con artists as main characters.

HHC Rating: 4.75 Stars

The Collector’s Apprentice hits shelves today, and Shapiro will be on tour through December promoting it. You can find the local stops on her tour schedule below, and find the book on Goodreads as well. A huge thanks to Brittani at Algonquin books for thinking of me when it came time for reviews and provided me with an e-ARC to read in exchange for my honest opinions. I loved it! But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some of the advanced praises for The Collector’s Apprentice:

“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

“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

Shapiro, Barbara (c) Lynn Wayne_HR

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 have been translated into over ten languages. Shapiro has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She divides her time between Boston and Florida along with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Sagan. Her website is www.bashapirobooks.com.

The Collector’s Apprentice Press Tour Stops in New England

Tuesday, October 16 — 7:00pm Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard St. Brookline, MA 02446

Wednesday, October 17 — 7:00pm Odyssey Bookshop 9 College St. South Hadley, MA 01075

Thursday, October 18 — 6:00pm Northshire Bookstore 4869 Main Street Manchester Center, VT 05255

Friday, October 19 — 7:00pm Wellesley Books 82 Central St Wellesley, MA 02482

Wednesday, November 7 — 7:00pm RJ Julia Booksellers 768 Boston Post Rd Madison, CT 06443

Thursday, November 8 — 7:00pm Print Bookstore 273 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101

Tuesday, November 20 — 7:00pm Point Street Reading Series Alchemy 71 Richmond St, 2nd Floor Providence, RI 02903

Monday, November 26 — 3:00pm Titcombs Bookshop 432 Route 6A East Sandwich, MA 02537

Tuesday, November 27 — 7:00pm An Unlikely Story 111 South Street Plainville, MA 02762

Wednesday, November 28 — 7:00pm Savoy Bookshop & Café 10 Canal St. Westerly, RI 02891

Thursday, November 29 — 7:00pm Belmont Books 79 Leonard St Belmont, MA 02478

–Author Bio, Advanced Blurbs, and tour dates courtesy of Michael McKenzie and Brittani Hilles at Algonquin Books.

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