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An artist who has become an art thief, an obsessive curator and a specialist in major art thefts… Their stories intersect with the fate of a legendary work by a tragic Victorian woman artist.‘Striking … Hegarty has gifted us a vital book for our time. Bathed in light, seeped in colour; it is full of the act of being mortal – in a landscape that is – slowly, finally – finding what it means to be human’ IRISH TIMES . A surprising and ambitious work of fiction centred on the art world, featuring an artist who has become an art thief, an obsessive curator and a specialist in major art thefts. Their stories intersect with the fate of a legendary work by a tragic Victorian woman artist who painted the picture as a kind of funeral dress, using the notoriously fragile distemper technique. At the heart of this moving and unusual novel is a strange painting by a woman who committed suicide rather than live with neglect and pain. Her final glowingly beautiful work was painted with a technique more usual for posters and banners, and not designed to last. She intended it as her shroud. It hangs in a Dublin gallery, and it is desired by a collector who is willing to pay to have it stolen. The thief is a disillusioned, corrupted London artist coping with tragic loss. The curator of the painting is a lonely gallerist whose life centres on her work. And the man charged with recovering the stolen painting is a gay man trapped in an abusive relationship. The lives of these three damaged people, each evoked with a calm, moving sympathy reminiscent of Michael Cunningham or David Park, come together around the hauntingly strange Victorian painting. Set in London, Dublin, Northern Ireland and various European capitals, The Jewel is a major new novel from an Irish writer coming into his own. ‘Irish author Neil Hegarty proves again that he is one to watch … Hegarty writes with sharp intelligence, which coupled with his strong storytelling and well-defined characters, results in a gripping plot that also offers an affecting insight into how artifice permeates our lives’ OBSERVER . ‘Neil Hegarty’s rich and intriguing second novel starts off in the realm of Victorian pastiche but ends up as a gripping present-day heist plot … [Hegarty] gives himself lots to juggle but manages with aplomb, setting the wounded trio at the book’s heart on a grimly compelling collision course’ DAILY MAIL .
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