This book was a saga of sorts. We follow the protagonist, Yakov/Julian, from childhood to middle age. He is a passionate painter with the drive to paint flowing through his veins. In attempts to become who he is he moves to New York from Chicago; to Paris from New York; to Germany from Paris. He is in Paris when Hitler is rising to power in Germany. Julian becomes friends with a close knit group of people who include Charlotte, Adrienne, Rene, and Felix (who is German).
Julian is always cast as the mediator or the go-between. He has strong values about painting and art as well as being loyal to friendship and honesty. For these reasons, he ends up embarking on a series of perilous and unfruitful journeys in the name of his friends and art.
It is not until many years later that Julian's methodology, determination and persistence finally pay off to see justice served.
There is surprise after surprise in this book and we learn a lot about the art world before, during, and after World War II. It was fascinating.
I liked how the author had the sins of the characters catch up with them because I think that is very realistic. I also liked how she did not sanitize the cruel acts that people did and she was clear about the myriad of betrayals that happen in a power struggle web of fear and retaliation.
Thanks to Kim Leisgang for recommending this book to me!