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The Art of Confidence

Cover of The Art of Confidence

The Art of Confidence

by Wendy Lee
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"I suppose I did it because I wanted something to show for the thirty years—longer than I had lived in my homeland—that I had been here in America. Something that was properly appreciated, even if someone else got all the credit."

Liu Qingwu doesn't set out to commit a crime. He only wants to sell a painting—something more substantial than the Impressionist knockoffs he flogs to tourists outside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the lucrative commission he receives from a Chelsea art dealer is more complicated than he initially realizes. Liu has been hired to create not an homage to Andrew Cantrell's modernist masterpiece, Elegy, but a forgery that will sell for millions.

The painting will change the lives of everyone associated with it—Liu, a Chinese immigrant still reeling from his wife's recent departure; Caroline, a gallery owner intent on saving her aunt's legacy; Molly, her perceptive assistant; and Harold, a Taiwanese businessman with an ethical dilemma on his hands. Weaving together their stories with that of Cantrell and the inspiration for his masterpiece, Wendy Lee's intricate, multilayered novel explores the unique fascination of great art and the lengths to which some are driven to create it—and to possess it.
"I suppose I did it because I wanted something to show for the thirty years—longer than I had lived in my homeland—that I had been here in America. Something that was properly appreciated, even if someone else got all the credit."

Liu Qingwu doesn't set out to commit a crime. He only wants to sell a painting—something more substantial than the Impressionist knockoffs he flogs to tourists outside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the lucrative commission he receives from a Chelsea art dealer is more complicated than he initially realizes. Liu has been hired to create not an homage to Andrew Cantrell's modernist masterpiece, Elegy, but a forgery that will sell for millions.

The painting will change the lives of everyone associated with it—Liu, a Chinese immigrant still reeling from his wife's recent departure; Caroline, a gallery owner intent on saving her aunt's legacy; Molly, her perceptive assistant; and Harold, a Taiwanese businessman with an ethical dilemma on his hands. Weaving together their stories with that of Cantrell and the inspiration for his masterpiece, Wendy Lee's intricate, multilayered novel explores the unique fascination of great art and the lengths to which some are driven to create it—and to possess it.
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About the Author-
  • Wendy Lee is the author of the novels Across a Green Ocean and Happy Family, which was named one of the top ten debuts of 2008 by Booklist and received an honorable mention from the Association of Asian American Studies. A graduate of New York University's Creative Writing Program, she has worked as a book editor and an English teacher in China. She lives in Queens, New York.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 19, 2016
    In her third novel, Lee (Across a Green Ocean) delves into what propels people to do the right or wrong thing and centers the book’s unique perspective on the
    creation of a forged painting. Lee focuses on four vastly different story lines, each revolving around the painting. Artist Liu, living hand to mouth in New York City for 30 years, longing for the wife who left him, and now selling his Impressionist reproductions on the street, grapples with the morality of creating a copy of Elegy, a 1969 painting by Andrew Cantrell, for gallery owner Caroline Lowry. Lowry, who inherited the failing gallery years before from her glamorous aunt Hazel—a doyenne of the art world in her day who had an affair with Cantrell—needs a quick fix to save her business and selling a forged painting seems to be the answer. Her assistant, Molly Schaeffer, daughter of Caroline’s best friend, intrigued by the sudden appearance of the Cantrell painting in the gallery, is dealing with her own troubled past. And businessman Harold Yu hopes the purchase of the painting might add joy to his lackluster family life. As the story unfolds from different viewpoints, the author moves back and forth in time, bringing depth and understanding to what motivates people in both their personal and professional lives.

  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2016

    In this multiple viewpoint novel, Lee (Across a Green Ocean) weaves a quartet of individuals, Chinese and American, who are linked by their desire to create or possess art. She starts with Liu Qingwu, a middle-aged, undocumented immigrant who has spent the last 30 years as the archetypal starving artist in New York. While coming to terms with his young wife's sudden departure, he is commissioned by a Chelsea art dealer to paint an homage to Andrew Cantrell's Elegy, a modernist masterpiece originally worth millions. His suspicions are aroused by the terms, the verbal contract, and the cash payment, but he moves forward with the work anyway, not just due to his financial straits but also because he believes that his talent has finally been recognized. This sets off a chain of events involving a "new money" Taiwanese businessman looking to make his first art investment and an art history college dropout. VERDICT This well-written mystery ponders the effects of one's decisions in the face of moral quandaries while depicting a lesser-known slice of the New York art world. A captivating read for most fans of popular fiction.--Suzanne Im, Los Angeles P.L.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Kensington
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