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The Underpainter [Hardcover]

Jane Urquhart
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars haunting April 5 2002
One way I measure a book is by how much it makes me think - and for how long after I've finished it. I first read this book two years ago, and still it haunts me. The characters are not especially sympathetic - least of all the artist - but what is disturbing is how well they are drawn from real life. The author has as remarkable an eye for character and human nature as a fine painter for his or her subject. I've recommended this book to many, but only to those who can appreciate a story of quiet depth. It's also a story that demands rereading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By "zeke8"
I found Jane Urquhart's novel to be quite compelling and well-written. Being an artist myself, I was eager to read a novel whose main character was an artist. The author captured the way in which art (any art) training is abjectly consuming at the expense of individual development. Artists and musicians tend toward the egocentric . . . partly because of the intensity of their training. Austin certainly fell into that category.
I was also pleased that Ms. Urquhart was able to depict with sensitivity the effects of trauma on the human psyche. She was not only sensitive but very graphic if one was able to travel with her during the story's telling. It is rare to find such idiosycratic topics dealt with in the context of a novel much less to find them dealt with really well.
The most compelling thing about the novel, however, is the warmth and compassion that she develops and portrays in her characters. In spite of their very human frailties, they are lovable if not always likeable.
I look forward to reading other Jane Urquhart works!
An artist/musician/reader
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sensual Nov. 23 2011
"The Underpainter", is a magnificent work of art.

Luminous landscapes inhabit the psyche of the artist, Austin Fraser, like pulsing echoes which haunt the desolate, frozen compartments of his heart.

I am mesmerized by the gripping power of this tale about a man unwilling and therefore unable to commit - neither to friends, nor love, nor landscape - nor even (and especially), to his own art.

His life - the love of a woman, the paintings, the landscape he inhabits - all of this detail and feeling - he obscures and obliterates with surgical acts of "Erasure".

I highly recommend reading this powerful and moving story by Jane Urquhart.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had not read this book Dec 19 2001
While I appreciated the clever use of imagery and symbolism in the book, and the author's grasp of a multitude of subjects, the emotional and moral infancy of the main character irritated me so much I wish I had not read this book. I would the narrator had ended his own miserable existence early on in the novel rather than devastate the lives of every decent person he encountered.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Underpainter also UnderAuthored July 8 2001
This story is completely obscure -- is the point here that you can cover up what might be a vivid story with trails of thought so hazy that only a persistent reader can remember from page to page what's going on? If so, here's a great example of Underauthoring.
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