The Art of Confidence by Wendy Lee [in Booklist]
An ephemeral, atmospheric painting, Elegy, is at the core of Wendy Lee’s third and most ambitious novel (Happy Family, 2008; Across a Green Ocean, 2015). An unknown, 30-year-sojourning Chinese artist is paid a pittance to recreate a missing canvas. A desperate New York gallery owner sells it for millions to hold onto a dead woman’s legacy. A young assistant with her own creative dreams wrestles over the cost of integrity. A wealthy Taiwanese investor loses almost everything, except, perhaps, what’s left of his soul. At the very end, a dead man offers the only glimpse of what really happened, which no one else, except the privileged reader, can ever know.
Revealed through viewpoints that shift between chapters, this is a sublime examination of what defines art, what gives art value, and the prices, far beyond the monetary, that we’re willing to pay to view it, admire it, acquire it, and even let it go. Through fragile alliances, flawed relationships, and capricious loyalties, Lee’s characters will lie, distort, betray, and ultimately accede to uneasy truths.