The Talented Miss Farwell

Emily Gray Tedrowe. Morrow, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-289772-5
Tedrowe’s zany, perfectly executed latest (after Commuters) follows Becky Farwell, a comptroller in Pierson, Ill., who uses the small town’s budget to fund her double life as a renowned New York City art collector and dealer named Reba Farwell. Becky has always had a head for numbers and problem solving, but remains tethered to Pierson by her hapless dad and his farm-equipment business. Though she knows nothing about art and never attended college, Becky is drawn to a painting in a Champaign-Urbana gallery. After coming across a surplus of town funds, Becky uses the money to purchase the painting, setting off a decades-long scheme of borrowing more and more from the town coffers to procure art with the intent to resell at a profit to benefit Pierson—but trouble hits when she borrows more than she returns to fuel her habit of bidding for coveted works. Becky’s relationship with the art world gets off to a rough start, but she manages to hit the big-time with the help of mentor Mac Palliser, who both nurtures her collecting habit and betrays her. Tedrowe does a spectacular job of demonstrating the mindset of a character who justifies her criminal activity while believing she’s ultimately good (“Becky breathed a tight little prayer of gratitude, yet again, that she hadn’t been caught. If only she could pay it back, that stupid $542”), as well as making the process of rationalization credible. The unusual plot and Tedrowe’s spirited execution of it make this one sing. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/31/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-289773-2
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-06-302893-7
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