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The Portrait.

THE PORTRAIT. Iain Pears. 2005. Read by Simon Vance. 5 cds. 5.5 hrs. Penguin Audio. 0-14305750-2. $25.95. Cardboard; plot, reader, author notes. A

The Portrait, like Poe's "Cask of Amontillado," is a beautifully written, exquisitely plotted Gothic revenge tale of a very high order. Unlike Poe's classic, however, it takes the form of an extended, digressive dramatic monologue delivered by Henry MacAlpine, a famous Scottish artist living in self-imposed seclusion on a sparsely populated Breton island, to William Naysmith, Britain's leading art critic and the artist's one-time friend and early mentor. The bait is not a bottle of sherry but the portrait the former paints of the latter from the novel's opening lines until its end. As MacAlpine discusses art, criticism, and the evolution of their long friendship, the implications of Naysmith's visit become horrifyingly clear. Vance's voice, rich with sinister nuance, expertly entices us towards the novel's inevitable, heartstopping conclusion. Francine Levitov, Attorney, New York, NY

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Author:Levitov, Francine
Article Type:Young Adult Review
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:One for Sorrow, Two for Joy.
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