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Great for a book club!

book cover

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro is an inventive take on a common theme in historical fiction novels. Although the story takes place in New York on the verge of the Second World War, it is not your average war novel.

Alizee Benoit is a mural painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) who, along with her yet-to-be-famous friends Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Lee Krasner, begin to explore and develop the field of abstract expressionism.

When tensions rise in Europe, Alizee attempts to save her Jewish family living in German occupied France. She begins to put powerful political messages within her artwork in an attempt to bring awareness to the plight in Europe, and to convince the American government to issue more visas.

Then Alizee vanishes.

Seventy years later, her great-niece Danielle attempts to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

This novel was a page turner! Its explorations of the art world, combined with the political narrative, made it an unique and interesting read. I'll admit that I know very little about abstract art, but I was completely enthralled by this book all the same. The story was beautifully written and was thoroughly engaging. I haven't read anything else by Shapiro, but I have heard very positive things about her 2012 book The Art Forger.

Overall, The Muralist was a very powerful story and would likely generate great conversions within a book club. I highly recommend this book!