Hailed as both a love story and a political thriller, the book, much like Vermeer’s works, is at its essence an intricate portrait of hauntingly well-drawn yet enigmatic characters. As such, it has earned extensive critical acclaim, as well as translation into seven languages. According to Katherine, a professor of fiction at Yale University and a longtime friend of Martha’s, the book is the story of art historian Patricia Dolan, a 41-year-old Irish-American woman who works at the Frick Museum in New York City. When the novel begins, the reader finds Patricia living in a remote, seaside cottage in West Cork, Ireland, captivated by “The Music Lesson,” a stolen miniature Vermeer executed on wood. Throughout the course of the book, Patricia discloses the remarkable series of events that have led to her seclusion, her passionate love affair with her 25-year-old distant cousin, her association with the Irish Republican Army, and eventually, a high-stakes crime—the kidnapping and ransom of the Queen’s Vermeer.
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“The Music Lesson” (Picador, 2000; $12)