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An Object of Beauty: A Novel

An Object of Beauty: A Novel

3.5 302
by Steve Martin

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Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring


Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights—and, at times, the dark lows—of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

Editorial Reviews

A legendary actor, comedian, and writer (Shopgirl; Born Standing Up) gifts us with a perceptive illustrated novel about glamour and subterfuge in the New York fine art market of the late nineties and beyond. At its center is Lacey Yeager, a talented, ardently ambitious Manhattan gallery dealer. A typically whimsical, insightful Steve Martin concoction. A gracefully turned fiction. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The multitalented comedian, musician, and author of The Pleasure of My Company examines the New York fine arts scene from its late-1990s heyday to the present. Lacey Yeager is an up-and-coming art dealer who uses her beauty, ingenuity, and lack of social conscience to rise from lowly Sotheby's staffer to owner of an exclusive gallery. Daniel Franks, a mild-mannered freelance art writer and Lacey's one-time lover, chronicles her calculated transformation much like Nick Carraway does with Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby—as an outsider, fascinated by an enigmatic woman whom Daniel describes as "curiously, disturbingly guilt-free." VERDICT While the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying and the character of Daniel is marginally pathetic, Lacey is an intriguing puzzle. Some readers may be shocked at the vulgar language and frank sexuality; others will find it honest. Plates of paintings mentioned in the text are a welcome addition. Martin's celebrity alone is reason to purchase this title; his agile musings on art and the business of art will give book clubs much to discuss. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]—Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA
Kirkus Reviews

The NYC art world, seen through the eyes of its most impartial constituents.

In his latest novel, Martin (Born Standing Up, 2007, etc.) unveils an ambitious and heartfelt analysis of both the complexity and absurdity of the Manhattan art market. It begins, appropriately enough, with a confession. "I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see the manuscript bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else." This declaration spills from arts writer David Franks, who finds a small universe encapsulated in the life of his subject, ex-lover Lacey. From this humble beginning, David chronicles the rise and fall of the fine-art market from the late '90s through the present day, complete with record-breaking prices, art thefts and the premature globalization of a complex system. After college, Lacey and David enter the burgeoning artistic world, Lacey as a grunt at Sotheby's, David as a struggling writer. David habitually profiles Lacey, an insanely determined dealer with a passion for creativity and wealth. Martin offers fascinating literary capers, mixing in real-life elements like a fictional run-in with novelist John Updike and the spectacular $500 million dollar theft at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. As Lacey graduates to art speculation and gallery ownership, Martin populates her world with a host of compelling characters, among them a desperately infatuated Parisian broker, a manipulative and powerful mentor, and Pilot Mouse, a minor boyfriend who reinvents himself as a Banksy-like artistic guerrilla. To add to the reader's experience, Martin includes reproductions of artwork referenced in the text, lending another layer of sophistication to an already absorbing story.

An artfully told tale of trade, caste and the obsessive mindset of collectors.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Steve Martin is a legendary writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood, The Spanish Prisoner, and Bringing Down the House, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story, and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He's won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, he has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and a bestselling novella, Shopgirl, which was made into a movie. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Brief Biography

Beverly Hills, California
Date of Birth:
August 14, 1945
Place of Birth:
Waco, Texas
Long Beach State College; University of California, Los Angeles

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An Object of Beauty 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 302 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Art writer Daniel Frank of the Stockbridge, Massachusetts Franks is bone marrow weary of his 24/7 thoughts about his amoral former lover Lacey Yeager. He knows she will sleep with anyone to get a head. In hopes of purging her from his blood, he writes down his thoughts about the rise and rise of Lacey Yeager in the upscale Manhattan art world. In the Clintonian Era, twenty-three years old beautiful Lacey Yeager obtains an entry level job as a Sotheby staffer. The intelligent and ambitious Lacey quickly rises up in rank in the company's normally glacial pace. As she did at Sothby's to obtain promotions, Lacey uses her body and brain to obtain a position at exclusive Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings"; ethics is for the hogs and legalities is for the frightened losers. Finally she achieves her objective of opening up the Lacey Yeager gallery in Chelsea and even 9/11 fails to prevent her meteoric rise to the troposphere of the high priced art universe. As a microcosm of the greed that led to the crash, An Object of Beauty is a terrific look at the ultra rich in which avarice with a need for more is a way of life as Steve Martin eloquently states that America has an aristocratic class with no moral ties to the country. The addition of pictures of paintings adds a fine art touch to the story line. However, this is Lacey's tale as she is a fascinating prototype as seen through the eyes of her whining former lover who exposes much of himself having a brain with one icon imprinted on it even as he exposes the woman he loathes and cherishes. Although the ending feels off kilter, Mr. Martin provides a profound condemnation of wealth without morality is worthless. Harriet Klausner
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
Lacey Yeager and her life is truly like the works of art she touches every day. Art is a thing of beauty to some and an unrecognizable glob to someone else. Either way no one can explain why they feel that way but Lacey had a way for drawing people in but for a reason no one can clearly explain. Art is something that you love or hate and everything in between is just white space. Lacey rises to the top of the art world by figuring out the players, learning how the game is manipulated and using all her acquired skills to buy for cheap and sell for high. She uses men like toys and friends are just as well for her personal pleasure. Lacey brings people close and never lets them really know what she is up to. Her apartment is overpriced and her clothes always chic but underneath it all is a woman that needs validation and be as complicated as she is simplistic. This story is told through the one consistent man in Lacey's life Daniel Chester French Franks - yes he has heard the jokes about his name! Daniel tells the tale of Lacey as seen by a man that loves her and hates her at the same time but still can't live without her. Lacey grows as an art expert and woman and as they plays out you realize there is more than a pretty face behind that frame. Steve Martin is a man who clearly knows how to write a book with characters you know and understand and basically feel they are people you interact with. This is a gift of a great writer and again with this book Mr. Martin shows he is someone that knows how to tell a joke and play out a straight line. The addition of an art history lesson is one that this reader thoroughly enjoyed and thought was a smooth addition to the pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. sad it's over. Do yourself a fsvor thiugh and read the actual book. There are 20ish color images of the art mentioned in the book, and seeing those, in color snd at the size he intended in thr book was very helpful. I reserved a copy from our library and only had to wait a week or so to get it. Sorry Nook, you lose on this one.
TheAnonymousDude More than 1 year ago
Steve Martin returns to wild and crazy in a formulaic, slapstick tale of an art critic without a clue learning the art of life and love from a ruthless young woman on the make. Oh yeah, and the guy is really, really, stupid. Well, sort of. Perhaps only in terms of expectations. Seriously, this is my favorite type of book: one that takes me to places I haven't been. In this case, an absurd world focused on "converting objects of beauty into objects of value." It is written with intelligence and wit. Perhaps some day first editions will sell for sums only those beyond wealthy can afford. Those of us who converted to e-books will feel pretty foolish then. All we'll have is the memory of enjoying a great read.
NoAutographsPlease More than 1 year ago
When I finished "Shopgirl" I hugged it, I literally hugged it for about 20 minutes, that's how much I loved it. The writing, the feeling, the small but ample plot... everything was so delicately placed that before I knew it I was in love. I was sad when I finished it. I read it again. "An Object Of Beauty" isn't a "bad" book... it just seems to lack those things which made "Shopgirl" so incredibly perfect. The plot was frenzied, I felt like he wanted to tell 12 stories at once, and while I commend the attempt-- even understand why, I just didn't feel like it stacked up. I enjoyed reading it, and I did so in 3 days, but part of the drive behind it was the fact that I kept looking for "it" to happen. I was looking for the spark, the glow, the "aha" moment that would make me go "Oh, here we go, now I can forgive how I felt." I hit the last page and instead of wanting to hug it, I simply went "Really?" I wasn't satisfied. I love all things Steve Martin, and probably if it was anyone else I wouldn't push them to so high a bar... but he missed, just by a hair, the beauty that there could have truly been.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Lacey Yeager is a brilliant up and coming art student who upon graduating from college lands herself a job at Sotheby's as an intern. Starting at the bottom doesn't exactly pay the type of money that Lacey's been accustom to and she struggles to find a way to get there one way or another. Her life is chronicled in sporadic details by her high school friend, Daniel Chester French Franks, as he meets with her through different times of her life. What he doesn't know as a fact he fills in to make the story complete. He is also an art school graduate and a former one night stand of Lacey's. As Lacey works from the basement, cataloging pictures, she begins to look for her next step on the ladder of success. She begins to learn how art works are sold, which ones sell and why others don't. As she begins to work her way to the top, she finds out that they are more than objects of beauty but objects of value. Much of the way she begins to see a parallel in her own life. She begins to work towards the finer things in life she desires which means finding herself a rich, wealthy and successful man willing to lavish it on her. In the latest novel by Steve Martin, former Saturday Night Live star, actor and now author, in Object of Beauty we see how Lacey's life and the art objects she finds and sells are similar and how certain some things can be rendered priceless. I received this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups for my honest review. I would have to rate this one a 4 out of 5 stars just based on the content contained within the storyline itself that some readers may find offensive, such as profanity and sexual content. Overall I think the story shares a profound message that not all beauty can be seen from the outside and everything has a price.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As much as I like Steve Martin, the first 2/3 was pretty dull. Art History in NYC ...so what? Then it turned into a soap opera....that was better. Wish he'd written that part first
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lacey Yeager, a young, witty, and daring young woman moves to New York City in hopes of “making it big” in the art world. Daniel Chester French Franks, the one constant in her life, tells her story. He observes as she encounters many hardships and must think quickly while trying to advance her career as an art dealer.  Her determination to achieve her goals is paired with a hunger to climb as high as she can on the social ladder. She learns from the art world during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during the 1990’s. “An Object of Beauty” by Steve Martin, combines a vast amount of art history with a fun and entertaining story. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in art and has a love for New York City. Lacey takes the reader on a fun and wild adventure throughout the streets of Manhattan. 
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Excellent inside look at the art world
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If the hardcover is already remaindered, why is the Nook Book $9.99 ?
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Ms_Marisa2013 More than 1 year ago
This book was good but not great. It was still a very interesting and exceptionally well written book. I do not regret reading. 
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story ok, some intimate scenes embarrasing rather than believable. Interesting art throughout.