The Optickal Illusionby Published 05 Jun 2018
|The Optickal Illusion.pdf|
|Publisher||The Overlook Press|
In this vividly fashioned debut, Rachel Halliburton draws from the sordid details of a genuine scandal that deceived the British Royal Academy to deliver a stirring tale on the elusive goal of achieving artistic renown.
It is 1797 and in Georgian London, nothing is certain anymore: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Amidst this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a dubious duo comprised of a blundering father and vibrant daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.
West was once the most celebrated painter in London, but he hasn’t produced anything of note in years, so against his better judgment he agrees to let the intriguing Ann Jemima Provis visit his studio and demonstrate the techniques from the document. What unravels reveals more than West has ever understood—about himself, the treachery of the art world, and the seductive promise of greatness. Rich in period detail of a meticulously crafted Georgian society, The Optickal Illusion demonstrates the lengths women must go to make their mark on a society that seeks to underplay their abilities.
"The Optickal Illusion" Reviews
Thanks Edelweiss for this ARC.
A instant classic for me. The satire, buffoonery, and fun of this book cannot be effused enough.
To be fair, I'm stopping reading about 25% in because I just can't get into it at all. It is so boring and disjointed--I gave it multiple "second tries" hoping to be able to get into it because the period and topic are interesting to me, but it's just all blandness and obfuscation and I can't bring myself to care.
This was a book which kept my attention, most of the time. About a scandal which happened in the late eighteenth century, and was so much more than that.
It began from a girl’s dream, a girl’s need, and finally a tribute to a person that was dear in her life. The story is all about that, a woman who seeked fame and fortune. A woman with enough talent to pass for it.
There are appearances of Mary Wollstonecraft just after she married Godwin, as well as other characters. And her words are the most memorable, and one which was the best when it came to how it was. Mary was one of the most interesting women in those times, forward in her ways and mind, and I enjoyed how the author portrayed her.
As a woman who was observant enough, as well as a woman who will understand Ann Jemina the best.
And speaking of which this goes into detail about her, the girl who was responsible and pushed for the artwork to be shown and told to the world. The girl who seemed to bear a lot of secrets behind her. And all of this was made so relatable, that even by the end I still could see why it was so and yet still be surprised.
The plot is slow, but the writing, the emotions more than make up for them. It is beautifully written, carefully arranged so that each chapter will fit perfectly. But the core has been Ann Jemina, what made her be, what caused her to choose this.
I liked how it was all around her and yet it wasn’t just solely her, all the other characters were given enough depth, enough development. From her father, West, Cosway and Opie. They were all developed and distinct.
I just enjoyed and savoured every word of the book as it had satisfied me in a long time, in a way that few books ever did. Something worth reading, if you’re interested in history along with character study, this was just that.
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
"... everything from clothes to food to interiors in the last few years of the 18th century are so vividly depicted. Her beautiful prose even manages to make a work of art out of one of the best descriptions of a hang-over I have ever read."