Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Art Thief

This may sound a little crazy, but I am blessed in my divorce. Divorce is never a pretty thing, and when children are involved it only gets harder. This first couple of years were really hard. We have 50/50 custody. This month the kids are with him during the week and with me on the weekends. Next month (tomorrow) we will switch. During the summer, we each keep the kids for six weeks so we don't always have them during the same months year after year. Initially we argued over clothing not being returned, who paid for school lunches and activities, etc. In time, we grew up and got over it. Now that Doogie and Molly are 16 and 14, they bounce back and forth between our houses almost at their whim. Doogie always comes here on Wednesday nights to watch Heroes with us and goes to Doug's on Tuesdays to game. Molly stays every Sunday night, because she doesn't want to go to the gaming session. We almost always have one of them here (and I love it). And it works because we aren't arguing and struggling for power anymore. We call and compare Christmas and birthday lists for the kids so we don't duplicate. The holidays are always a balancing act, but we work it through. When one of the kids isn't turning in assignments at school, I can call Doug and we discuss what actions to take together. If they are grounded at one house, they are probably grounded at the other, because we back each other up. I am so grateful for this. My mom isn't so blessed, and the struggles hurt her and my brother. It may sound crazy, but I do thank God for the relationship I share with my ex. I wish all divorced couples could work together for the sake of their children in the same way. I don't take any credit for it myself; it's all God! I am not strong or loving enough to do the things he empowers me to do for my kids.

The Art Thief by Noah Charney is a promising book about duplicity and double-crossing in the art world, but it's let down by a disappointing ending. Three paintings are stolen: in Rome a Caravaggio altarpiece, in Paris Malevich's White on White, and in London another copy of that same painting. Or are they the same painting stolen twice for unknown reasons. Gabriel Coffin, an expert on art theft, is called in to investigate the crimes, and others are quickly drawn into the intricate plot. I've read other reviewers complaining about the thick art history in the book, but I think that's the only place it shined. When Charney expostulates on iconoclasm, modern art, and symbolism, the book is fascinating, and the pages fly by. But the story gets bogged down by overly quirky police officers in Paris and London. The cops are just a bit too precious, and the amount of backstory given to the Wickenden seems overdone considering his small role in the story. I went along with the story and even enjoyed myself until the final chapters when Charney pulls a double-cross on his readers and lost my loyalty. Characters who appeared to be on the up-and-up are the bad guys with all sorts of connections to each other that the reader couldn't be aware of. In the end, the plot fails when all of the players become known, and the theft was so complicated as to be confusing and pointless. I wanted so much more for this book, and if Charney stuck to the art at which he is an expert, I'd read more; just skip the suspense.

Tomorrow is of course Halloween. Today's picture is of Molly and Mia with Jesse's mom. They carved pumpkins there last weekend.