Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

I received a review copy of this novel from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinions.

The Last Nude is a beautiful novel that reads fast, but does not lack in quality.

Most of the novel is set in 1927 Paris told from the point-of-view of Rafaela Fano, and 17-year-old Italian American. While it was written in the first person, it sometimes felt like third person because Rafaela wasn't a reliable narrator. She chooses what she does and does not see and convinces herself of things that are not true.

In 1927 Rafaela meets painter Tamara de Lempicka and agrees to pose for her. She inspires a number of Lempicka's paintings, but the most famous one is the first one she paints: Beautiful Rafaela. The Last Nude is what the author imagines the relationship between the painter and her muse was like.

Rafaela fashions herself in love with Tamara, but soon reality comes crashing down around her.

The second part of the story, which is only about the last 50 pages or so, is told from the point-of-view of an elderly Tamara, now living in Mexico in the 1970s. At this point in her life, Tamara is about as a reliable narrator as a 17-year-old Rafaela. So, I realize, we may not even be getting the whole story. There's still some mystery there.

I was incredibly engrossed in the story, thanks to the effortless prose and immersible story. Even some of the side characters were irresistible. Although, there were one or two who I would have liked to have known what happened to them.

A great between-the-wars story that had three main characters: Rafaela, Tamara, and Paris. Recommended.


Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed it. I hope to read it soon. I tend to have difficulties with unreliable narrators, but from your review, it sounds like it works here.