Portrait of an Unknown Lady

Highbridge Audio. Mar. 2022. tr. from Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. 4:19 hrs. ISBN 9781696608176. $12.99. M
The description of Gainza’s second novel to be published in English (after Optic Nerve) might lead listeners to assume they are about to hear a gripping tale of detection, full of cleverness and subterfuge. Some of that is present, but overall the novel is a meandering, leisurely account of a corrupted art expert’s journey into the world of art forgery and the obsession that keeps her from more honest work. This story, and its presentation, makes for an excellent audiobook. It is easy to fall into the conversational cadence of narrator Kyla Garcia’s voice, which makes it seem as if she is speaking directly to the listener. The less straightforward flow of the narrative feels natural, mimicking the tangents and backtracking that the average speaker indulges in when they tell a story. It’s easy to comfortably ride the narrative and reach what conclusions are available when they happen to arise.
VERDICT One of those wonderful listens in which the audiobook edition may well be the best way to experience the story.
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