Monday, September 24, 2012

The Ghost Painter by Marilu Norden: Impressions

The Ghost Painter by Marilu Norden tells the story of a young artist living in New York, Angelina, who idolized a painter, Adelaide Moran, known for her breathtaking landscapes of New Mexico. Adelaide dies without completing her final masterpiece. While in heaven waiting to meet the Great Spirit (bear with me here), Adelaide decides that she's going to haunt Ramon, her smarmy art dealer, to get him, a weird psychic and a shady shaman to help her find an artist whose body and talents she can possess and utilize to complete her masterpiece.

This novel left much to be desired. The characters were more caricatures: Angelina Bonelli, beautiful, helpless starving artist of Italilian descent; her best friend Gabriella, a gorgeous, black jazz singer; Ramon, smarmy art dealer; and Adelaide, Native American beauty whose talents were never recognized to her satisfaction. Everyone is drop dead gorgeous and the main character, Angelina, is much more of a pawn than a player. Further, too much information is delivered in the first-person inner thoughts of the characters Angelina, Ramon and Adelaide, which interrupts the narrative flow.

However, despite these shortcomings, many of which could be corrected with a few rounds of editing, the plotline itself is actually amusing, especially if one is familiar with magical realism and is willing to suspend a fair amount of disbelief. So... have any of you seen that corny but fun movie from the late 80s, Chances Are? Robert Downey, Jr.? It's possible I'm the only one that watched it on TBS some fateful Saturday afternoon in the 90s. And, of course, Ghost? Those movies worked, for what they were, despite the ghosty, supernatural-type elements. I kept thinking this storyline would be better served as more of a comedic movie than a novel. Or perhaps just as a comedy of errors, in novel form. If the tone had been more goofy than serious, rather than not really picking a tone at all, the story could have worked.

All in all, The Ghost Painter has much potential, but it, like Adelaide's masterpiece, reads as very raw and unfinished.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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