#BookReview Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland @babsbourland @QuercusBooks

Fake Like MeAbout the Book

CAREY LOGAN – She was the genius wild child of the New York art scene, and my idol.

FAKE – I was a no-name painter from the Florida backwater, clawing my way into their world.

LIKE – When she died, she left a space that couldn’t be filled. Except, maybe, by

ME – Everything that gets created destroys something else.

When a fire rips through her studio and burns the seven enormous paintings for her next exhibition, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in just three months – or ruin her fledgling career. Thirty-four, single and homeless, she desperately secures a place at an exclusive upstate retreat.

Brimming with creative history and set on a sparkling black lake, Pine City and its founders – a notorious collective of successful artists – is what she’s idolized all her life. She’s dreamt of the parties, the celebrities, the privilege. What she finds is a ghost of its former self.

The recent suicide of founding member Carey Logan haunts everyone, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. And one thought begins to shadow her every move – what really happened to her hero?

Format: Paperback (360 pp.)    Publisher: riverrun
Published: 11th July 2019   Genre: Literary, Thriller

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Fake Like Me on Goodreads


My Review

I have to admit I know very little about modern art – or at least I did before starting this book. However, this was in no way a handicap to enjoying Fake Like Me. In fact, reading the book was something of an education into the movers and shakers of the art world and the physicality and science involved in creating artworks like those produced by the narrator.

The author convincingly conveys the intensely personal, almost visceral nature of the process of creating art for our narrator. ‘Everything for me is about giving birth… Somehow I get pregnant, and then eventually a painting comes out.’ On the other hand, the book exposes the commercialization of the modern art world and the commoditization of the artist by agents, collectors and galleries. As our narrator observes at one point, ‘We make work and it goes in the machine’.

As a fan of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (and don’t get me started about the wonderful film version starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine), I loved the frequent nods to du Maurier’s novel. There’s the fact that we never learn the first name of the second Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca just as the narrator of Fake Like Me remains unnamed and all her identity papers are destroyed in the fire that consumes her studio. And in both novels the unnamed narrator is obsessed by a predecessor with whom she feels she can never compete. There’s also a particular scene in Fake Like Me that had me exclaiming, ‘That happens in Rebecca too!’ The literary allusions don’t stop there (don’t you just love a bit of intertextuality?) because there are party scenes in Fake Like Me reminiscent in their alcohol and drug-fuelled excess of The Great Gatsby. Another ‘fake’ of course…

There’s sly humour as well, including the ridiculing of pompous pronouncements about art, and the fact that events are often in opposition to the chapter headings. You might be able to guess what happens in the chapter entitled ‘Chastity’.

And of course I haven’t mentioned the mystery at the heart of the book – the events surrounding the death of Carey Logan that so dominate the thoughts of our narrator and will probably similarly dominate yours as you read. The revelation, when it comes towards the end of the book, is unexpected but also completely consistent with what has come before, being the product of artistic instinct and observation by our unnamed narrator.

Fake Like Me is an intense, vibrant and deliciously dark literary thriller.

Thanks to Katya and the team at Quercus Books for organising the buddy read and for my review copy. The weekly discussions on Twitter with fellow readers – sharing thoughts, ideas and theories (mostly wrong) – have been a delight and added an extra element to my enjoyment of the book. I shall miss our Monday night catch-ups.

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In three words: Dark, intense, compelling

Try something similar…The Body Lies by Jo Baker (read my review here)


Barbara BourlandAbout the Author

Barbara Bourland is the author of the critically acclaimed I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and an Irish Independent Book of the Year.

Bourland is a former freelance writer and web producer for titles at Conde Nast and Hearst, among others. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and their dogs.

Fake Like Me was written with support from the Wassaic Project in New York where Bourland was a resident over the winter of 2017-18. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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