This is my first time reading a Steve Martin novel, and i was impressed. The story wasn’t simple, and at times wasn’t straight forward. It was rewarding for the challenge is presented.
What I enjoyed most of this book was the sentences that he constructed. There were so many lines that were close to what I felt to be perfectly constructed. For example, this passage to introduce the fact that the narrator was unreliable was sheer genius:
“If you occasionally wonder how I know about some of the events I describe in this book, I don’t. I have found that — just like in real life– imagination sometimes has to stand in for real experience. “
Where the book falters is that it is written as being Daniel’s story, but really his story is about Lacey. The book starts of strongly as Daniel being the protagonist, but quickly he becomes the narrator, only returning to his role near the end of the novel. Maybe we are supposed to contrast Lacey’s free-willing lifestyle with the humble, conservative style that Daniel leads, but with the exception of a dinner party scene and art festival in Miami, this is rarely done. With the exception of these (all too) few moments, we never really do get a sense of the narrator.
Lacey’s story get further difficult to follow as in its middle it focuses heavily on the world of art, its collectors and its history. If you are not moderately aware of this world, the novel becomes a lot harder to follow. This is clearly a world that Steve Martin knows a lot about.
My overall impression is that An Object of Beauty is a strong book, filled with wonderful dialogue, and insights into people, that is ideal for discussion once completed with a group of friends. I would have easily given this book a higher rating if I had a greater knowledge of the world that the characters inhabited.
I will make a more concentrated effort to read his other works.
The above was originally posted to my goodreads account on July 2 2011.