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Muralist

Narrated by: Xe Sands
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)
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Summary

Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940 amid personal and political turmoil. No one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some 70 years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who, while working at Christie's auction house, uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind recently found works by those now famous abstract expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?

Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges listeners into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of today's New York art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of abstract expressionism.

B. A. Shapiro is a master at telling a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizée and Danielle, she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask, What happens when luminous talent collides with inexorable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world? And to what lengths should a person go to thwart evil?

©2015 B.A. Shapiro (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"B. A. Shapiro once again pens the art world into vivid, sensual life. Set during World War II and the dawn of Abstract Expressionism, The Muralist is an intriguing story masterfully imagined about art, war, family, truth, and freedom. If you liked The Art Forger, you're going to love The Muralist!" (Lisa Genova, author of Love, Anthony)
"B. A. Shapiro's The Muralist is an expertly constructed, riveting tale of art, politics, love, and consequences in the Depression Era. I admire so much the way she vividly brings to life this passionate world of the past - it rings with originality and authenticity. What a compelling read!" (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins)
"I am a great fan of B. A. Shapiro, especially her new novel The Muralist. It is a tantalizing mystery, as well as an involving meditation on the meaning of art over time." (Scott Turow, author of Identical)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • acarter1123
  • 07-08-16

a gripping tale of emotion

This tale of art and passion, of intrigue and truth speaks to the human drive to not only survive, but also to thrive. The scary part of the story is its relevance today as many people parrot the same isolationist ideologies which promote xenophobia once again in this country.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • alyxsheerheart
  • 02-12-15

Like the Beginning; Indifferent About the Rest

For the second time in a week, a book's ending has completely shocked me. The Muralist's ending makes me happy, yet confused all at the same time.

The first thing you have to grow customer to when reading this book, is the way it jumps back and forth between speaker and time. You go from Dani in 2015 to Alizée in the late 1930s - 1940. For the most part, Alizée is the main character/voice. I enjoyed the first 3rd, and I guess the final 5 chapters, but the middle of the book causes mixed-feelings.

It's a bit wordy, especially in the middle. But the all of a sudden in a matter of a couple chapters out of 57, the book's problem is solved and wrapped up with a bow on top. Just strange. I wish we could have enjoyed a more gradual ending that would leave me making more sense of the events.

This is not a book that will have you begging for more or wanting to read it all in one sitting. I have had this around for almost a month trying to get it finished. But it is an easy read. Maybe just not the most gripping, easy read.

However, all-in-all, I enjoyed the book. I would, perhaps, give this a 3.5 / 5 stars if that were an option. But since it's not, I feel like it deserves a 4 over a 3.

Xe Sands is a phenomenal narrator. I think I have become attached to her in some way after listening to both The Art Forger and The Muralist.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Leah
  • 01-12-16

great book! love how the past and future exist tog

Great book. loved how the past and present intertwined. loved seeing actual historical figures each with their own struggles

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Laura Griglak
  • 15-11-18

Learning how to appreciate abstract art

I was surprised by this book. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, and I had no idea I would leave the story with a newfound understanding of abstract art, as well as the U.S. involvement in keeping immigrants out of the country. My only beef with the story is the ending. I just felt like it was...unrealistic? Besides that, great book. #WWII #Immigration #AbstractArt #HistoricalFiction #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eva Gannon
  • 09-08-18

Historical Fiction Meets Reality

The beauty of this book is that its fictional characters interact with historical figures, such as Eleanor Roosevelt. It gives the book a unique authenticity, as well as a glimpse into foreign policy actions taken during WWII that are repeating themselves in our current political landscape.

The narrator is spot on.

I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Haley Sater
  • 09-07-18

Did meet reality

I did find this book nearly as engaging as Shapiro’s The Art Forger. I think the historical dialog was inconsistent with real 1940s, and it seemed as though you could predict he direction of the plot early on in the book.

That being said, I still found the story very emotional compelling. All characters having some depth and unresolved flaws made the book feel more genuine.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily Waugh
  • 30-11-17

This one stuck with me

After I finished, I couldn’t stop talking about it with my mother, who had also read it, for several days. Shapiro’s character development was of the sort that leaves me wishing the Story was true and the characters real, they become that beloved. The reverence for art is undeniable - so palpable it inspired me to pick up a brush for the first time in a good long while. Overall, I’m thrilled I gave this one a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customerk888
  • 03-09-17

You will feel all their emotions

Shapiro writes with such depth and emotion that you will see, hear and feel each character.

You are not left to wonder about much as events are well rounded. I do love this style of writing which encompasses history, as well as, what life held for each person and their connections
A very pleasant, justified and joyful tears ending! 6 stars

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dianne B
  • 20-08-17

Art, history, love ... enjoyable.

I listened to this book over several long road trips and enjoyed the listen. For me it was the perfect audio book, involving art history, history, New York, and more. I think I preferred listening to this more than I would reading it.
It's a good story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • DFK
  • 19-04-17

Surprisingly excellent!

OK, maybe my title is odd - why would I get this book if I didn't expect to enjoy it? Well, I did expect to enjoy it, or at least hope to enjoy it, but was nevertheless somewhat skeptical. I enjoyed The Art Forger very much - which is why I decided to try this book, but wasn't totally keen on the narrator. She was OK in The Art Forger, but not amazing. I would still say she was not amazing in this book, but she did do a quite good job with the accents, the different voices, and yeah, the male voices are still not her strongest point, but over all she carries it off well. The story itself is excellent. At first I was skeptical - can Shapiro really do another art story with a mystery? As I listened to the beginning, I first felt that she won't be able to pull off another book that is as good. And doing a novel that involves the Holocaust takes a particularly good author - this is a topic that has been exploited by some, understated by others, and also requires an angle that is different. By focusing on Roosevelt's failure in admitting refugees and his allowing his Assistant Secretary of State to operate as he did, the story relates an aspect of American history that is not so well known, and that is very relevant, even if the situation in war-torn zones today is different from the Nazi agenda and what occupied Europe was like. As it turned out, the story was very well done, the artist characters are certainly colorful, the setting of the WPA project a good one, and I heartily recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful