If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, by Alison Pace

>> Thursday, February 16, 2006

I have tried quite a few new authors this month, so no problem choosing one for Angie W's February TBR challenge!

Title: If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend

Author: Alison Pace

Year published: 2005

Back cover blurb:

Jane Laine used to know a lot about art. But that was before she started managing a prominent gallery, and long before she met "it" artist Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons. Jane can't seem to put a finger on what exactly is so "it" about his work. In fact, as far as she can tell, he's a big fraud and his fifteen minutes of fame should be over by now. Which could be kind of a problem --since Jane is the one who has to accompany him on a five-month international art fair tour.

To get through it all, Jane figures she'll be a good sport and keep her critiques to herself. Until, traveling with this alleged genius from London to Rome and beyond, she starts to understand the connection between art and love --and the fact that, in both, perspective is everything...
Why did you get this book?: The review at AAR first sparked my interest in it and I added it to my wish list. And then jmc mentioned how it was one of her keepers, so I broke down and ordered it, instead of waiting to find someone who wanted to trade it.

Do you like the cover?

Yeah, I do. It's attractive (if not particuarly attention-grabbing), and the art gallery feel is very appropriate to the book.

Did you enjoy the book?:

I did, very much. I'd give it a B+.

Jane was a very engaging character, and I really enjoyed her voice and her take on things. I think one of the things I liked best was the way her attitude towards Ian and his work evolves. At first, she simply doesn't understand it or him. She just can't see what's so wonderful about it, why everyone who's anyone thinks Ian is the best artist in a long time, and this makes her feel insecure, because it makes her doubt that she actually knows anything about art. And this, in turn (added to the fact that anything that relates to Ian makes her boss behave even more unbearably), makes her dislike Ian himself. She thinks he has to be a fake and a phony, that he has to be a pretentious idiot out to fool the world. Given that Ian is such a huge deal in the art world (which is, of course, the world in which much of Jane's life takes place) I thought it was refreshing that their relationship starts out so free of hero worship, and I liked this.

During their trip, her attitude gradually changes, and this change keeps pace with the growth in her character. She soon begins to see that Ian is actually a sweetheart, and a true artist who, even though he takes a healthy interest in the commercial side of his art, really believes in what he's doing. And she also begins to see the whole point of Ian's art. I'm not going to spoil it here, but I loved the scene in which she finally sees what the elusive "it" of his art is.

Oh, and of course, I also adored the travelling. When Jane first gets the news and is, er, less than excited about it, I wanted to shake her. London! Rome! Chicago! Santa Fe! And she doesn't want to go? That's just nuts. But she soon sees reason and begins to enjoy herself, and so did I. I especially loved her Rome appartment and Lucia. ;-)

Her boss, Dick, is also wonderfully done. I've just voted in the AAR readers poll, and I was thisclose to voting for him in the "Best Villain" character. He's just indescribably horrible, unbelievable mean and petty and cruel, and a character I really loved to hate.

The romance was actually really nice. It did leave me wanting more, especially about what was going on inside Ian's head, but in a good way, because Pace managed to subtly show his feelings through Jane's eyes, even when she didn't realize what was going on. Still, I did think the ending was a tad too abrupt, both on the romance angle and (because I'm vengeful that way), in that, while it made it clear that Dick was going to get what was coming to him, we didn't actually get to see this, and I really wanted to gloat!

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?: New to me: see the definition of this month's challenge ;-) Would I read something else by her: definitely. I've been looking at her website, and she's got a new book, Pug Hill, coming out in May. The blurb wouldn't really make me pick it up, but since I liked IAWHAG so much, I'll check it out.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?: It's already in its place in my keeper shelves.


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