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In her debut novel, Robards takes up the story of impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, who was a friend and lover of fellow artist Edouard Manet, and imagines a love affair between them against the backdrop of a disapproving time. After they first meet in the Louvre, Manet invites Morisot to his studio, where he paints the first of what would be countless portraits. Morisot basks in the great man's attention, but she must learn to tread carefully around Manet's wife. Together, the painters test the limits of propriety, engaging in a risky affair that is compromised bit by bit over time, leading to unexpected ends. Robards constructs a convincing plot for these real-life characters, her sense of emotion is keen and the setting serviceably rendered, but readers looking for insight into the art should look elsewhere. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.