Australian Author · Contemporary/Literary · Historical Fiction · Read-Reviewed-2019

The Artist’s Portrait by Julie Keys. (2019).


The Artist’s Portrait by Julie Keys. (2019).

**2.5 out of 5 stars**

In 1992, morning sickness means Jane takes pre-dawn walks which leads her to meet an unfriendly woman who sprays her with a hose. That woman claims to be Muriel, an infamous artist from Sydney’s bohemian 1920s. Critics argue that legend rather than ability has made Muriel infamous and records also claim that she died in 1936. Jane begins to investigate the life of Muriel. Murderer, narcissist, or artistic genius and a woman before her time: who really is Muriel?

This book came highly recommended by someone I have similar reading tastes to but unfortunately while I liked the concept I didn’t really get into this book. I didn’t like Muriel’s narration style at all as it felt really abrupt; it suited the character well but I just didn’t enjoy it myself. I actually didn’t really like Muriel that much either. I was also confused why part of of the book focused on a friend of Jane’s, Matt. To be fair it wasn’t a large feature or anything but I felt the inclusion of his background and the emphasis on him wasn’t necessary; maybe the significance went over my head. I ended the book with a lot of unanswered questions and thoughts, which I don’t particularly like to finish a story feeling like that.
This novel was on the 2017 Richell Prize shortlist which is a great achievement and a lot of people have rated it highly and praised it – just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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