Chevalier's atmospheric novel GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING imagines life inside the household of Dutch painter Vermeer in the 1660s. It explores the tense relationships between Vermeer, his wife, mother-in-law and servants. And it illuminates the tricky business dealings with his main patron. A maid, Griet, is allowed an important role in Vermeer's studio - mixing his paints, adjusting his compositions, and modelling for the painting Girl With A Pearl Earring. Brilliant writing, clever stuff.

Love Walked In

Johannes Vermeer Dutch, Het Meisje met de Parel (Girl with a Pearl Earring), c. 1665 Oil on canvas x 39 cm Mauritshuis, The Royal Picture Gallery The Hague, Netherlands

BIRTH OF VENUS tells the story of Alessandra Cecchi the daughter of a textile merchant in sixteenth century Renaissance Florence. She's desperate to follow her passion for drawing. Her father employs a painter to create frescoes in their private chapel and Alessandra conspires to spend time with him. The novel is set in a time of political and religious upheaval. Historically accurate and a great read.

**Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant. "Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo.

Gossip and false accusation are the underlying themes of Pieter Bruegel's cycle of paintings entitled The Twelve Months and in Michael Frayn's tragi-comic novel HEADLONG a previously unknown painting from this cycle surfaces in the shabby country home of the Churts. Scholarly neighbour Martin Clay hatches a plan to defraud the Churts of this priceless work of art. There's heavy-weight art history in this novel, which opens up the world of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands.

An art historian thinks he's found a long lost masterpiece. Art history in a mile a minute chase!

Peter Carey delves into the murky world of art authentication committees telling a believable tale of corruption among art dealers. There are three strong characters: Australian expressionistic painter Michael, struggling to find recognition outside his home country; Hugh, his brother who has learning difficulties; and Marlene who is ruthless in wielding her power to authenticate paintings by the deceased artist Jacques Leibovitz. There's plenty of humour. A good read.

Review: Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey

Thwarted ambition is the theme of this novel, which some reviewers have labelled as lad-lit. I think that's a tad harsh. David Pinner teaches English, is unlucky in love, and writes a vicious art review blog, The Damp Review. He bumps into his former teacher from Goldsmiths art college, Ruth Marks, now a successful New York-based artist. GLOVER'S MISTAKE becomes a psychological thriller feeding off David's jealousy and bitterness towards people "to whom things come easy."

Glover's Mistake

David Pinner, a paunchy academic on the fringes of London's art scene, reconnects with his idol and former teacher, Ruth Marks, a celebrated American feminist artist. Rut falls for David's roommate -- let the love triangle begin.

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