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The Fraud

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This is a rich historical novel set in 18th-century London. 1763. Filipo di Vecellio of Florence, portrait painter, is the toast of London: rich, successful and married to a beautiful woman. Their house is the hub of the art world but beneath the surface, the house conceals a swarm of dangerous secrets.


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This is a rich historical novel set in 18th-century London. 1763. Filipo di Vecellio of Florence, portrait painter, is the toast of London: rich, successful and married to a beautiful woman. Their house is the hub of the art world but beneath the surface, the house conceals a swarm of dangerous secrets.

30 review for The Fraud

  1. 5 out of 5

    EmyAttorney

    This is the first book I've read by Barbara Ewing, and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Don't misunderstand, I love both historical fiction and stuff about art, but often, when they are transposed into books, they end up being really boring and dreary. Not in this case, though. The writing is simple and easy to both read and follow. The story flows fluidly, and the only part which can be considered a bit "heavy" is the start, but after that everything slides into place, making th This is the first book I've read by Barbara Ewing, and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Don't misunderstand, I love both historical fiction and stuff about art, but often, when they are transposed into books, they end up being really boring and dreary. Not in this case, though. The writing is simple and easy to both read and follow. The story flows fluidly, and the only part which can be considered a bit "heavy" is the start, but after that everything slides into place, making the rest of the book incredibly enjoyable. This is the story of Grace, a girl who lives in the 18th century, in the city of Bristol. She's loved drawing ever since she was a kid, but, being a girl, was never encouraged to follow such a carreer. She loses most of her family due to the plague. The only survivors are Grace herself and her two brothers, Philip and Tobias. Tobias becomes a sailor, whilst Philip, who wants to become a famous painter, leaves her alone to pursue his dream in Italy, where he'll be able to study and learn from the italian masters. So Grace finds herself stuck in Bristol, weaving straw hats for a living. But she never forgets her love of art, drawing on the walls with chalk. One day her brother Philip comes back, determined to bring her to London with him. Now that he's managed to become a respectable artist, what could go wrong? Well... there's the fact that everyone thinks that he's italian, and that his name is Filipo di Vecellio. So, of course, Grace has to become his sister from Florence, Francesca. The story, as I've already said, is very well-written, and the characters are absolutely wonderful. I especially loved the women: Grace, Poppy, Miss Ffoulks, Angelica, even her daughter Isabella! They are all very different and interesting, even though the one with the most development is, of course, Grace. Philip's character is very intriguing as well. He's an absolute asshole, of course, but still interesting. I wouldn't mind punching him in the face, though. The ending is good too. It might fall a little flat, that's true, but in this kind of story it makes sense. I know most people dislike open endings, which leave many doubts and questions, but such is life. There are no moments in a person's life where everything is nice and neat and perfect. Here you have to actually think and use your own mind. What happens to Grace? Does she become famous? Does she fail? Does she find love (again)? So, I loved this book. It was simply... good. Often we need to find all kinds of words to praise a book, but this one is just... I don't know. Simple. In a good way, of course. Anyway, read it. You'll understand what I'm talking about! Emma PS: There was also a romantic subplot, but it wasn't that important. It didn't impede the main story, and it was quite well done. PPS: I'm sorry if there are any mistakes in my review... English isn't my first language^^''

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hollyanne

    I read a couple of Ewing's books a few summers ago and picked this one up to read this year and I really enjoyed it. The Fraud follows the story of Grace, a person burdened by circumstance who desires nothing more than to become a painter like her brother. I felt so attached to Grace, to her passion, her love and loss and desperation to be accepted for what she is: a painter. Well written reminiscent of 'The Tea Rose' in some of the writing style, for me anyway, I found the change of 3rd to 1st p I read a couple of Ewing's books a few summers ago and picked this one up to read this year and I really enjoyed it. The Fraud follows the story of Grace, a person burdened by circumstance who desires nothing more than to become a painter like her brother. I felt so attached to Grace, to her passion, her love and loss and desperation to be accepted for what she is: a painter. Well written reminiscent of 'The Tea Rose' in some of the writing style, for me anyway, I found the change of 3rd to 1st person a little of putting at first but I think it was well managed results in a wonderful book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    KL Caley

    I actually finished this book a few weeks ago but hadn’t found the time to write the review. I am now really glad that I had that time for reflection as it has actually increased my liking of the book and appreciate some of the world captured in these pages the more. Let me explain… The premise of this book primarily is about a brother (Phillip) and sister (Grace) who despite being from a noble family find themselves going through financial hardships at a very young age and decide to re-establish I actually finished this book a few weeks ago but hadn’t found the time to write the review. I am now really glad that I had that time for reflection as it has actually increased my liking of the book and appreciate some of the world captured in these pages the more. Let me explain… The premise of this book primarily is about a brother (Phillip) and sister (Grace) who despite being from a noble family find themselves going through financial hardships at a very young age and decide to re-establish themselves. The family has a talent – art. Phillip being a young man is invited to join a merchant ship and tour Europe, whilst his younger sister Grace is sent to a workhouse. Several years pass when Phillip returns for Grace having cast aside the tainted English family name he has reinvented himself as Filipo an artist from Florence and invites Grace to join him by running his house in London disguised as his Italian sister Francesca. Francesca agrees, desperate to escape the workhouse but soon regrets her decision when her brother quashes her dreams of becoming an artist in her own right. How far will she go to see her own dreams fulfilled? The settings of this book are primarily around London (although a slight inclusion of Bristol and Amsterdam are also featured). The author really does a great job to capture the hustle and bustle of the Georgian streets of London with the market, crowds, cockfighting, pickpockets and prostitution all woven cleverly into the storyline. Whilst I wasn’t overjoyed with Grace/Francesca as a character during the reading of the novel. She certainly left an afterthought with me. Her single goal in life was to be recognised as an artist in her own right. After finishing the book this struck a chord with me. Despite (many) years ago studying Graphic Design which includes Art History as a module, I struggle to name many historic female artists. The author captured this lacking in society so well in the book, that inequality throughout life, that Grace’s fighting spirit almost becomes a shining example (despite the decisions and frauds she makes to try to achieve her dream). It is worth mentioning here something which can appear a little confusing in the book is the writing style of the author. The story is told in the third person (e.g. Francesca does this, Fillip says that) but then in chapter six the author switches to first person (e.g. I did this, I said that) and zooms right into Grace’s storyline, this alternates to the end of the book. Whilst originally I found this switching slowed the pace of the book a little, I really enjoyed the ending which brings some of the reasoning behind this storytelling method to light, so I guess I am saying stick with it. Here is a brief extract of the author’s writing style. “I took off all my clothes; I was shaking slightly and I told myself not to be so foolish and I looked in the mirror, at my naked body, never in my life had I looked at it in a mirror before and I could hardly bear to look at it now for the dirt and shame of what it had done – but it had arms and legs like the statue in Philip’s studio, and it was the body of a woman. I took a deep breath, I picked up a piece of charcoal, and I began drawing myself.” As a woman, I find this paragraph quite empowering. One of the best things about this novel was that there was no obvious plotting. I did not know what would happen next and as an avid reader, it is rare that this is the case. Our heroine was certainly flawed and there were a fair few bad guys hanging about still I had no idea if and when they would get their comeuppance or if it was even viable for our heroine to get a happy ending. This more than encouraged me to keep turning those pages. Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rohase Piercy

    This is one of my three Barbara Ewing favourites (the other two being 'The Mesmerist' and 'The Petticoat Men'). Once again, it's about a feisty woman struggling to express herself and fulfil her dream (in this case, to be a recognised artist in her own right in the eighteenth century), but unlike 'The Trespass' and 'Rosetta' it doesn't labour the point anachronistically when it comes to sexual inequality and injustice, it lets the story do it naturally. Of course there are some horrible domineer This is one of my three Barbara Ewing favourites (the other two being 'The Mesmerist' and 'The Petticoat Men'). Once again, it's about a feisty woman struggling to express herself and fulfil her dream (in this case, to be a recognised artist in her own right in the eighteenth century), but unlike 'The Trespass' and 'Rosetta' it doesn't labour the point anachronistically when it comes to sexual inequality and injustice, it lets the story do it naturally. Of course there are some horrible domineering selfish male characters, but enough kind, thoughtful ones to keep a balance - and the women are amazing, so beautifully and credibly presented, with one lovely character from 'Rosetta' making a welcome reappearance. I longed for Grace/Francesca to have both recognition and a happy ending, and after repeated setbacks she got both - so in contrast with some of Ewing's other concluding chapters, this one was perfectly satisfactory! And the period detail was, as always, meticulous, atmospheric and thoroughly researched, right down to the changing artistic methods, subjects and techniques of the day. Wonderful stuff!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex Peralta

    Demasiado lento y muy descriptivo en momentos o escenas que no son trascendentales para la historia. El fraude como tal sucede hasta en los ultimos capitulos del libro donde el lector ya ha imaginado al menos 3 posibles finales. Mientras se llega a esto, la autora nos relata el dia a dia de la vida de los hermanos Di Vecellio durante 30 años, muchas de las veces quise dejar de leer el libro pero la curiosidad no me dejo, lo cual no me arrepiento del todo. Toda la trama no está tan apartado de la Demasiado lento y muy descriptivo en momentos o escenas que no son trascendentales para la historia. El fraude como tal sucede hasta en los ultimos capitulos del libro donde el lector ya ha imaginado al menos 3 posibles finales. Mientras se llega a esto, la autora nos relata el dia a dia de la vida de los hermanos Di Vecellio durante 30 años, muchas de las veces quise dejar de leer el libro pero la curiosidad no me dejo, lo cual no me arrepiento del todo. Toda la trama no está tan apartado de la realidad actual donde el exito y esfuerzo de una mujer es un golpe directo al ego de muchos hombres y la historia da muchos giros, manteniendo al lector ansioso por saber mas de la misma porque no se sabe como sera el desenlace. En general es un libro entretenido y con mucho aprendizaje sobre el arte de esa epoca, si uno es curioso muy probablemente le da por ir a Google a saber mas de Tiziano, Rembrant, Sir Joshua Reynolds y muchos mas.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    La historia abarca 25 años de la vida de estos hermanos y es en la casa de Filipo donde se reúnen a cenar pintores de moda y famosos, marchantes, celebridades. Grace o Francesca vive en las sombras esperando poder realizar sus sueños. Pero la vida le impone fuertes pruebas que le impiden llevar a cabo sus sueños como pretendía al cumplir 21 años, pero a pesar de esto ella no se rinde, ella quiere conseguir ser una pintora. El camino será largo y deberá renunciar a mucho para seguir el rumbo que La historia abarca 25 años de la vida de estos hermanos y es en la casa de Filipo donde se reúnen a cenar pintores de moda y famosos, marchantes, celebridades. Grace o Francesca vive en las sombras esperando poder realizar sus sueños. Pero la vida le impone fuertes pruebas que le impiden llevar a cabo sus sueños como pretendía al cumplir 21 años, pero a pesar de esto ella no se rinde, ella quiere conseguir ser una pintora. El camino será largo y deberá renunciar a mucho para seguir el rumbo que se ha propuesto. “Tal vez, para tener éxito, los grandes artistas deberán perder una parte de sí mismos” La reseña completa aquí: https://perezosa69.blogspot.cl/2017/1...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl

    I stepped so effortlessly into the wolds of Bristol and then London in the 1700s, gaining a sense of how William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds were perceived by society at that time. Grace Marshall was intriguing and Ewing did a good job to make me completely believe in her story - her unyielding commitment to honour her artistic spirit in the face of such adversity. I so loved all the levels of 'fraud', topped off by the author's trick that she played on me as reader. Lov I stepped so effortlessly into the wolds of Bristol and then London in the 1700s, gaining a sense of how William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds were perceived by society at that time. Grace Marshall was intriguing and Ewing did a good job to make me completely believe in her story - her unyielding commitment to honour her artistic spirit in the face of such adversity. I so loved all the levels of 'fraud', topped off by the author's trick that she played on me as reader. Loved it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane Connor

    This is a rich historical novel set in 18th-century London. 1763. Filipo di Vecellio of Florence, portrait painter, is the toast of London: rich, successful and married to a beautiful woman. Their house is the hub of the art world but beneath the surface, the house conceals a swarm of dangerous secrets.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Graceann

    It is a very rare occasion when I honestly don't know what's going to happen next at any point in a novel. There was never a moment in The Fraud where I said "ah, this is where such and so will occur." I mean this as high praise. Grace Marshall has a completely unpredictable life in Bristol and then Georgian London, and encounters many people the average woman would never meet. She has great aspiration and vigour; despite attempts to thwart her ambitions, she keeps her eyes on a goal denied most It is a very rare occasion when I honestly don't know what's going to happen next at any point in a novel. There was never a moment in The Fraud where I said "ah, this is where such and so will occur." I mean this as high praise. Grace Marshall has a completely unpredictable life in Bristol and then Georgian London, and encounters many people the average woman would never meet. She has great aspiration and vigour; despite attempts to thwart her ambitions, she keeps her eyes on a goal denied most women of her time. The trials she faces and in what ways she succeeds make up this intricate, complex story. Nobody is a complete hero here, though there are plenty of villains to go around. I love that even our heroine makes choices that are questionable in pursuit of her goals. I spent a great deal of my reading time rooting for her and hoping for particularly painful comeuppance to the people who stood in her way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Barden

    Deeply moving and a magnificently brave tour de force, this is a novel that rewards the reader handsomely for seeing through the journey, one which begins quite slowly and quietly in a way which offers few clues to the excitement that lies ahead. Set in the eighteenth century, in the era of Gainsborough, Reynolds and Hogarth, at the heart of the story is an unravelling of what it takes to be a uniquely talented artist, and moreover a woman, at a time when women were never taken seriously as arti Deeply moving and a magnificently brave tour de force, this is a novel that rewards the reader handsomely for seeing through the journey, one which begins quite slowly and quietly in a way which offers few clues to the excitement that lies ahead. Set in the eighteenth century, in the era of Gainsborough, Reynolds and Hogarth, at the heart of the story is an unravelling of what it takes to be a uniquely talented artist, and moreover a woman, at a time when women were never taken seriously as artists. The book is brave because it breaks so many rules, using a rather distant narrator's voice initially, and shifting viewpoint, even using different typefaces to distinguish the changes which are sometimes quite abrupt. But there are reasons for all these quirks which only become clear in the final resolution, and I'd say this book is a triumph because it taps into the fundamental connection between creativity and feeling.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    A story of a girl who dreams beyond the bounds of the woman's lot in regency England. Written in a style appropriate to the era it covers, the book reveals the cruelty of having dreams, ambition and talent, but the wrong gender! This is no advert for Women's Lib, but the frustration and even fear of living at the mercy of family isn't far below the surface of this narrative as Grace becomes embittered and set upon revenge. English society in the 18th Century is painted as narcissistic, at times A story of a girl who dreams beyond the bounds of the woman's lot in regency England. Written in a style appropriate to the era it covers, the book reveals the cruelty of having dreams, ambition and talent, but the wrong gender! This is no advert for Women's Lib, but the frustration and even fear of living at the mercy of family isn't far below the surface of this narrative as Grace becomes embittered and set upon revenge. English society in the 18th Century is painted as narcissistic, at times brutal and at all times shallow. But Ms Ewing brings colour and life to her scenes and at one point, I even got onto the internet to see for myself the work of artists she described as they crossed Grace's path. A surprise find on a supermarket shelf, and one of the reasons I appreciate 2 for 1 offers! this is a book I wouldn't have chosen if I was scanning shelves in a bookstore, but it is one I am so glad I did. I will be checking book stores for the other stories Barbara Ewing has written.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alison Sloan

    This has been my favourite Barbra Ewing book so far. Barbara Ewing creates a strong verbal template on which I could create a world for the characters. Again the subject matter was enthralling and her style of writing fluid and easy to follow. Again, my only complaint, why can't the book end completely? Why must it always be left hanging for a potential sequel? Having said that, grab any of her books if you see them. She's one of the finest kiwi writers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Lemus

    I couldn't put this book down, and read it in one day. It's been awhile since a book was that amazing. As usual Barbara Ewing does not disappoint. This is her third book I've read and I've really enjoyed them all for the unusual choices and real decisions the heroines make, this is no normal historical fiction novel with a woman waiting around to be saved.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Klemm

    I really enjoyed this story about 18th Century Grace and her lifelong dream to become an artist/painter and all of the obstacles she encountered. The author did a good job of describing Bristol/London during those times.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Naz Khan

    I really enjoyed this book once I got past the first few chapters, which I found hard to get into but I'm glad I persevered.This book played with my emotions quite a lot and I was way more involved in the characters lives than is normal!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Prestoni

    Barbara Ewing is a great writer and I have loved this story the second time I've read it as much as the first. All her books I've read have been beautifully written and gripping until the end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jean Overbeck

    A very interesting story set in 18th Century London in the world of artists. Not Barbara Ewing's best - but worth a read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Mcdonell

    Another excellent book by Barbara Ewing. It is the second of her books that I have read and enjoyed. I will look for more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Margareth8537

    Found the plot and setting fascinating. Liked the artistic detail

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Slow start, but once it picked up I really enjoyed it. I liked the ending!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne Wright

    You need to read this book. The talented female used the bolster the ego of a less talented man

  22. 5 out of 5

    Damien

    This is the best book I have read this year!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karolína

    Amazingly fascinating and sad novel with historical facts, you'll think of the main character many years after reading this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    This book starts very slowly but stick win it the story gets better. I really enjoyed it :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dilys Myhill

    I dislike not finishing a book but this was just not going anywhere so slow and boring.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pascalle

    Een ontroerend en mooi verhaal over een meisje wat ondanks alle tegenslagen in haar leven maar een droom heeft en dat is schilderen. Tot op het einde bleef het boek boeiend en onvoorspelbaar.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tiny

    Set in the Bristol of the past, this was quite an (understandably) sad read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pkandyi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Davina

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Milligan

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