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Summary

This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the story's told.

In this extraordinary audiobook, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Australian writer Dominic Smith brilliantly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the Golden Age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated Australian art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.

In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland as a master painter, the first woman to be so honoured. 300 years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain - a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the Manhattan bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner.

An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibition of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive.

As the three threads intersect with increasing and exquisite suspense, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerises while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.

©2016 Dominic Smith (P)2016 Macmillan Audio USA

What members say

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Wonderful storytelling

I loved this tale of female artists, forgery, art history and moral dilemmas. The story moves between different time periods and continents and concerns, as its central focus, a painting by a celebrated female painter of the Dutch Golden Age. The painting is to feature in a major art exhibition and the curator of that exhibition is aware of a secret surrounding the canvas, a secret that could destroy her career and destroy more than one life.
Fantastic storytelling, beautifully written and very sympathetic narration.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An Intriguing story spoiled by inept narration

I wish I had read the novel, rather than listening to this narrator try to imitate Australian and English accents. The English accent was simply a poor stereotype, but the Australian was laughably inept. It slid randomly between South African and Irish(?). This was a major problem, since one of the main characters was Australian and some of the novel was set in Australia. It spoiled the novel for me. Read the book instead, I would suggest.

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Wonderful story

If you could sum up The Last Painting of Sara de Vos in three words, what would they be?

Layered like paintings

What did you like best about this story?

Evocative descriptions of place, sensitive characterisations of people, wonderful descriptions of painting technique and the art world, an original and absorbing story, will listen again

What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

Good storytelling

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No one to savour

Any additional comments?

Terrible Australian accent for Ellie's character. She sounded South African.

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Compelling listening

This book was recommended to us and, having now listened to it, I can see why it is getting so much attention. The contrast between the artists and the monied patrons of the arts, and the sometimes shonky art industry certainly provides a compelling story. The reader is a favourite of mine so I managed to ignore his weird interpretation of an Australian accent.

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  • Caroline
  • 12-11-16

Distracting appauling "Australian" accent.

What did you like best about The Last Painting of Sara de Vos? What did you like least?

I am so annoyed with the extremely poor "Australian Accent" that Eduardo Ballerini puts on that I have stopped listening in order to put in my first review. I wish he had not done any accents and had just read it with his American one. This is distracting enough for a non-American as it is, but to have an incompetent accent foisted on one while listening is extremely annoying. He seems to think Australians and South Africans/ New Zealanders have a similar accent. I am South African so I know that accent , and I live in AU so I know that one! Please do not let him do any accents again. in fact, it would be nice to have all books read by an English speaking person, rather than an American speaking person.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

His total inability to do Australian accents. He did a horrid and bad concoction of South African and New Zealand instead. OH DEAR!!! Give us no accents if not properly done!and give us English actors please.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacquelyn
  • 21-02-18

Watch out for the South African Aussie accent

Great story moving back and forward through time. Great art descriptions as part of the narrative. But as an Australian the Australian characters accents were terrible. I had to keep making them South Africans in Australia.

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  • Christina
  • 21-05-17

Great book

A beautiful book, but the narrator really should not have attempted an Australian accent. As an Australian myself I guessed the character was South African, and was halfway in to the book before the frequent allusions to Sydney sunk in. Once I realised the accent was *supposed* to be Australian it grated for the rest of the book, ruining the sense of place for the parts set in Australia. I would have preferred that the narrator didn't even attempt the accent. If you're Australian, maybe read this one on paper/ebook and skip the audio.

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  • Tracey Henderson
  • 02-05-17

Great Story

Would you consider the audio edition of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos to be better than the print version?

I really enjoyed the Audible version, but I think it's really a book to read - there is so much rich description.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marty, because he was so decent.

Did Edoardo Ballerini do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes, largely through accents and tone. The Australian accents were a bit dodgy sometimes, and found Ellie's diffidence in early New York scenes a bit wearying ... but particularly liked his Marty - and narration really good.

Who was the most memorable character of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos and why?

Sara and Ellie's final scenes - so poignant