Book

Novel The Painting by Alison Booth

This is still the old theme of art. Given the popularity of my five books I’ve read… on this subject, it is clear that I am not the only reader who prefers it. The painting by Australian author Alison Booth has the added attraction of partly playing in Budapest, which I really liked when we visited in 2017. Booth’s novel is set in the final months of the Cold Debate and follows Anika, who came to Sydney four years earlier to visit her aunt Tabilla and brought the portrait of her Uncle Tomas. She thought about her mother’s advice. Think of life like a deck of Cards; always put on a mask before you start playing and never let anyone know what’s behind it

Anika fled Hungary under conditions similar to Tabilla’s after Anika’s Uncle Tomas was shot dead during the 1956 uprising. Anika had brought the portrait of an elegant red-brown woman that her father wanted to pass on to her aunt. Tabilla does not want to do anything about it, but asks Anika to authenticate it. It could be valuable, a way to ensure Anika’s financial security, although for Anika it is a reminder of her beloved family, especially her grandmother, whose living room is filled with paintings. In two thoughts, Anika is waiting in line for the state gallery, quickly joining the talkative Jonno. The curators ‘ note surprise Anika-her painting is the work of a famous French Impressionist.

Soon she becomes the object of great interest: Jonno appears everywhere, the handsome curator of the museum invites her for a drink, but when she brings the portrait to Tabilla’s gallery friend, she is faced with surprising hostility. When it is stolen, Anika begins to think that there is something sinister about the origin of the painting and is determined to find out while fearing the truth that she could shed light on her family. Meanwhile, a political catastrophe unfolds, allowing Anika to return home and talk with her beloved grandmother about the truth behind this beautiful picture and her changing past.

She began to feel unrooted, as if she could be swept away by a breeze that could take off.

Booth unfolds his complex plot carefully constructed from Anika’s point of view, throwing red pegs here and there while exploring the consequences of totalitarianism and debate. Anika, the second, guesses everyone’s motivation, adept at hiding her own feelings, which causes confusion among open and curious Australians. It is a warning that results from his own conflict with the Hungarian authorities and the constant caution of his family, especially his grandmother with her front door locked and her living room curtains closed. Booth weaves a beautifully strained thread through his novel, which is happily resolved at the end.

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