Trick of the Eye

Trick of the Eye

3.9 9
by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, Anna Fields
     
 

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Faith Crowell is 39 years old, content in an artist's life that is solitary but not lonely. A specialist in trompe l'oeil - the art of painterly illusion that makes things seem to be what they are not - she is about to learn that illusion is more than a painter's trick: for some it is a way of life. Frances Griffin is a grande dame, a reclusive widow whose fabulous… See more details below

Overview

Faith Crowell is 39 years old, content in an artist's life that is solitary but not lonely. A specialist in trompe l'oeil - the art of painterly illusion that makes things seem to be what they are not - she is about to learn that illusion is more than a painter's trick: for some it is a way of life. Frances Griffin is a grande dame, a reclusive widow whose fabulous fortune represents the accumulated wealth of generations of American aristocrats. She is one of the country's foremost art collectors, but the commission she is about to offer demands far more than artistic technique. In fact, it will test Faith's very soul. For when Mrs. Griffin proposes that Faith paint the ballroom of her mansion, a room built many years before for her daughter's debutante ball, it is not Faith's talent that she desires, but something else. Jane Stanton Hitchcock has written a stunning novel with modern Gothic overtones set in the fashionable world where privilege and social grace mask a legacy of greed, deception, and murder. Behind the facade of exquisite beauty, behind the kindness with which she is treated, lies a landscape littered with horror and guilt. As the story rushes to a searing climax, Faith will face a shattering clash between her patron's spurious values - and her own hard-won vision of the truth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A tautly controlled narrative voice and a prose style that transcends genre key the action in this gothic thriller about a successful trompe l'oeil artist commissioned to work at a grand old estate on the North Shore of Long Island. Faith Crowell, a 39-year-old self-described ``spinster,'' is happiest when alone with her thoughts. Her ability to ``paint a variety of illusionary images on any compatible surface'' brings her work to the attention of Frances Griffin, a reclusive widow and fabulously wealthy collector, who wants Faith to repaint the huge ballroom of her mansion, the Haven. Mrs. Griffin reveals that the ballroom was built for the coming-out party of her daughter Cassandra, who was stabbed to death shortly after her marriage. As Faith begins her work, the grisly, unsolved murder comes to haunt her, and she sets about attempting to solve the 15-year-old case with the aid of her friend, Harry Pitt. The Haven, Faith learns, harbors many lurid secrets, not the least of which may be Mrs. Griffin's own connection to the crime. Readers of Hitchcock's well-made tale will enjoy discovering whether this master craftswoman of the art of surfaces will be able to penetrate the moneyed Griffin veneer and locate the shocking truth. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Wealthy New York society matron and patron of the arts Frances Griffin commissions Faith Crowell, a 39-year-old trompe l'oeil artist, to paint the interior of her ballroom, built 20 years earlier for the debutante cotillion of her now-deceased daughter, Cassandra. During this assignment, Faith learns that Cassandra's murder remains unsolved, and Mrs. Griffin seems to know more about it than she is telling. Intrigued with the mystery and possible cover-up, Faith digs beneath the surface and uncovers the extraordinary, evil truth dividing appearance from reality. First novelist Hitchcock's material borders on the melodramatic, and her plot borders on the unlikely, but her writing commands attention. Recommended for lovers of suspense and Gothic novels.-- Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
Dramatist Stanton's first novel is a thoroughly satisfying thriller—simultaneously luscious and ladylike as it traces the cat-and-mouse relationship between a wealthy old New York dowager and the solitary artist she hires to help re-create her past. Faith Crowell is nearly 40 and feels—with some relief, some regret—that she's now safely past the age of passion, obsessive love, and unsatisfied longings. Concentrating on contenting herself with a solitary life in Manhattan—complete with cat, comfy apartment, and a successful, if hardly brilliant, career as a specialist in trompe l' oeil—Faith is shocked when grande dame Frances Griffin drops into her studio like an errant comet landing on a desert floor. The primly dressed, sharply opinionated elderly woman has come to ask Crowell, who creates artistic illusions for the very wealthy, to paint the ballroom of her legendary Long Island mansion. Flattered, Faith accepts, despite a reluctance to shut down the rest of her business for the six months that the project will take. She quickly becomes enthralled, however, as she enters the beautiful, marble-floored ballroom, hears the story of its single night of service as the site of Frances's only daughter's debutante ball, learns of the daughter's brutal unsolved murder a few years later, and realizes with an unpleasant jolt that she herself almost exactly resembles the dead girl. As Frances draws a golden net around the unwary artist, Faith begins to wonder uneasily why she was chosen for this project, why her employer seems intent on confiding all her secrets to her, and what, exactly, lies beneath the surface of Frances Griffin's public life. A truly wonderful twistnear the end transforms this creation from lively entertainment to gasp-provoking, attention-grabbing imbroglio. Those few among Hitchcock's characters who aren't charming, unusual, and thoroughly likable are certainly overflowing with surprises. Pure pleasure for psychological-suspense fans.

New York Post
Hitchock’s mysteries are savvy social satires and well-constructed clocks, ticking down to nail-biting climaxes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786192854
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2003
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 5.16(h) x 1.94(d)

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Dominick Dunne
A sleek and villainous tale.

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