‘Fake or fortune? Or something else entirely …‘
– A Perfect Copy
[ About the Book ]
Daisy Staunton and Ben Tarrant meet at an auction and discover they own identical copies of a Victorian portrait of an elegant, enigmatic ancestor of theirs. But is one a fake?
On a sweeping trail of mystery and intrigue that leads them across Europe – from the impoverished shtetls of Russia to the elegance of Hapsburg Vienna and Victorian London – they uncover the story of two young Jewish sisters, Rosa and Lena Rabinovitch, forced to take heart-breaking decisions in their attempts to survive.
Ben, a primary-school teacher, and Daisy, a successful marketing executive, initially do not hit it off. But, compelled to prove the paintings’ provenance, they reluctantly form an alliance. Each is dealing with a personal issue – Ben increasingly despondent about advanced plans for a flashy expensive wedding, and Daisy fed up of playing second fiddle to her boyfriend’s all-consuming career. But discovering disturbing secrets about their past makes them question their own lives – who they really are, and, more importantly, who they want to be.
[ My Review ]
A Perfect Copy by Derville Murphy was published with Poolbeg Press April 26th. The book was inspired by the discovery that Derville Murphy’s husband’s grandfather Percival Wilson (originally Wingard) was Jewish, a fact that was not spoken about in the family for over eighty years. Derville Murphy’s ‘fascination with this man’s story led her on a journey back as far as 1830 to Kornyn, West of Kiev, where the Wingard family originated. At that time, it was at the heart of Russia’s Pale of Jewish settlement where Tsar Nicholas forced Jews to live.’
In A Perfect Copy we become immersed in the lives of Rosa and Lena Rabinovitch, two Jewish sisters living in Kornyn in 1853. Rosa is on the verge of marrying the young and handsome Isaac but her parents have other intentions of marriage for her younger sister Lena. Growing up, both girls knew they were much loved by their parents but were also very much aware of the daily financial struggles of life in the Pale of Jewish Settlement. As their lives unfold we are taken on a compelling journey from Kornyn to Vienna and London. Rosa and Lena loved each other dearly but an act of defiance resulted in them becoming embroiled in a complicated rivalry, one that would impact their lives forever in the most unimaginable way.
2011 Daisy Frome and Ben Tarrant, two strangers, separately wish to auction family portraits in order to raise much needed cash. On the day of the auction the art pieces are removed from sale as it becomes clear that both are of the same woman. Both paintings appear identical to the naked eye but only one is signed by the artist. Confused, Daisy and Ben make the decision to try to unravel a little of their family history to see if they can uncover the truth behind these replicas. Along the way, they also discover a little bit more about themselves. Ben is a primary school teacher who was reared by his older sister after the tragic death of his parents. He is now engaged but the complicated wedding plans are getting to be too much for Ben so this journey into his past is the perfect distraction from the daily stresses he finds himself under. Daisy is highly successful in marketing and in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, albeit a long-distance one as he works in London. Daisy has always thought their partnership was solid but now, as she spends more time with Ben, she starts to question her relationship and her plans for her future.
As Ben and Daisy make some extraordinary discoveries, the reader is treated to a mystery full of intrigue and heartbreak as the past is slowly revealed. Derville Murphy is an art consultant and her passion and knowledge for art shines true adding a very authentic layer to this elaborate and vivid tale. There is a vibrancy to this story that spills through in the almost cinematic descriptions of Vienna and the wealth of those who lived there versus the poverty of Kornyn and the power of religion over its citizens. This juxtaposition of these two very different worlds is wonderfully depicted by Derville Murphy and is seamlessly intertwined with the contemporary world that Ben and Daisy inhabit.
A Perfect Copy is a fascinating and very affecting read. Derville Murphy writes with great compassion bringing the reader right into the lives of these two sisters as we witness the strife and hardship they had to overcome in order to survive. A Perfect Copy felt like a biographical account of a true-life event which is very much down to the meticulous level of research undertaken by Derville Murphy.
“This journey into the past uncovered a new world, a rich tapestry of Jewish life in Eastern Europe during the mid-19th century, and I used this knowledge to weave an entirely fictional story about art, love and obsession.” – Derville Murphy
With a very engaging plot, A Perfect Copy is a sweeping tale across generations that will satisfy all who enjoy a captivating mystery. Imbued with a great sense of time and place, A Perfect Copy was a joy to get lost in, a wonderful combination of the historical with the contemporary.
[ About Derville Murphy (in her own words) ]
“I came to writing accidently. A journey that begin when I embarked on an abrupt career change when I left my job as an architect and entered the world of academia. I have always painted, I loved art and my job as an architect involved looking after an art collection. So I chose to study the History of Art and Architecture. Once I started, I got the academic bug and continued to do a PhD, also on the subject of art and architecture. I initially started to write creatively to help enrich my research into historic events. But I discovered that I just love writing and telling stories. I particularly love writing twisty, suspenseful stories with unexpected plots. I do hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I have enjoyed writing them.”
Read more ~ https://www.dervillemurphyauthor.com/