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Download The Portrait Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Portrait (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Iain Pears
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (792 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Iain Pears Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2005 ISBN:
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An influential art critic in the early years of the 20th century journeys from London to the rustic, remote island of Houat, off France's northwest coast, to sit for a portrait painted by an old friend, a gifted but tormented artist living in self-imposed exile. Over the course of the sitting, the painter recalls their years of friendship, the double-edged gift of the critic's patronage, the power he wielded over aspiring artists, and his apparent callousness in anointing the careers of some and devastating the lives of others. The balance of power between the two men shifts dramatically as the critic becomes a passive subject, while the painter struggles to capture the character of the man, as well as his image, on canvas.

Reminiscing with ease and familiarity one minute, with anger and menace the next, the painter eventually reveals why he has accepted the commission of this portrait, why he left London suddenly and mysteriously at the height of his success, and why now, with dark determination, he feels ready to return.

Set against the dramatic, untamed landscape of Brittany during one of the most explosive periods in art history, The Portrait is rich with atmosphere and suggestion, psychological complexity, and marvelous detail. It is a novel you will want to begin again immediately after turning the last chilling page, to read once more with a watchful eye and appreciate the hand of an ingenious storyteller at work. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becca | 2/15/2014

    " Iain pears is a great writer. This book is somewhat odd to start reading as it is told like a monologue by a reclusive artist to his sitter, an old friend and art critic. Set in the early 20th century it is fascinating from a historical perspective and because pears is a master at building both relationships and suspense. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 dannymac | 2/12/2014

    " Dull, boring.... Old hat..... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Isabelle | 2/1/2014

    " Iain Pears always writes a good book, and this monologue recounting the face to face of two old friends/enemies is well worth reading. While the two unearth their past, a portrait is being painted. The problem for me is double: I could not help thinking the critic character was so inspired by Ruskin that his real biography kept popping in my head, and I read this book after I read John Lanchester's "Debt to Pleasure" that it is very obviously inspired from or at least a connoisseur's homage to, somewhat of a problem as "Debt to Pleasure" is so much more thrilling. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ananda | 1/27/2014

    " This surely is one of the worst books I've read in my life. The story was awful, the plot way too boring, and the characters...no personality if I may say. All I felt after I read this book was a great relief that it was over! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/25/2014

    " Loved the ending. Did not think that was where it was going! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian | 1/24/2014

    " Framed as a monologue given by an exiled painter as he talks to the art critic who was once his closest friend, but he now hates, who is sitting for the titular portrait. Where the story is going is no great surprise, but the journey there is cleverly worked out. Not Pears' best but definitely worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janellyn51 | 1/22/2014

    " This was different than the other Pears book's I've read. It was kind of short but sweet...not really sweet, but short anyway. It was pretty interesting, a one sided conversation through the entire book. Clearly the artist has issues with the critic he is painting. I'm trying to decide if I was surprised by the ending, but I kind of don't think so. Oddly enough I work for an art critic, who I rarely see trash someone completely, while at the same time giving an honest opinion. He said one day, you don't really want to cut someone to ribbons, but at the same time, your getting paid to give your opinion, and that's the truth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 WanLing Wong | 1/21/2014

    " It's a little disappointing. But all in all a good read. I would have expected a bit more mind-challenging plot and character development. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ferdi | 1/18/2014

    " A little bit different style-wise from Iain Pears. Somewhat this was still enjoyable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Francisco | 12/19/2013

    " The ending... why?! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gabriel | 12/13/2013

    " Enjoyable, but the narration becomes a bit tiresome, and the plot is predictable. I enjoyed certain passages quite a bit, and thought the insights into the relationship between artists and critics interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tina | 11/28/2013

    " I enjoyed this book. It is very short. I loved the way the artist told the whole story. Very dramatic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claudia | 9/1/2013

    " Hm. Well, I suppose the ending was worth slogging through this slim though trying book. Not bad but not one of my favorite Pears novels. Maybe it'll grow on me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Peter | 7/21/2013

    " Didn't finish this... Just couldn't get into the monologue. I had a problem with how the narrator spoke to this sitter; it was to perfect. I get that he has probably been practicing this speech for some time, but it was just too unrealistic for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 6/10/2013

    " Good, but not quite The Instance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 4/5/2013

    " I really enjoyed this, probably more than I've enjoyed his longer works, which I think tend to get a little out of control. This was compact, wicked, fun. A little predictable but I liked it a lot anyway. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 11/22/2012

    " A dark book but a very interesting one - pretty short also, easy read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tim | 8/6/2012

    " A fairly tedious first person narrative. The plot arch is obvious from the start and the character is consistently uninteresting to me. Two strikes for Pears so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bettie | 5/20/2011

    " First line - Well, well, well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathryn | 3/24/2011

    " My second book by Iain Pears. A short little novel, but not as interesting or intriguing as Stone's Fall. It was all written in a first-person account of an artist painting someone's portrait. Through this account, you find out the history of both people and how they're connected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gert | 1/3/2011

    " Reads like a train. A story in the first person, fast paced, intriguing. You just can't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 10/2/2010

    " Ah, I can't say anything really without giving away the plot.
    I can say, the book is gripping, creepy, thrilling, and just the right length. Read it in one sitting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 8/17/2010

    " Loved the ending. Did not think that was where it was going! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathryn | 6/17/2010

    " My second book by Iain Pears. A short little novel, but not as interesting or intriguing as Stone's Fall. It was all written in a first-person account of an artist painting someone's portrait. Through this account, you find out the history of both people and how they're connected. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carolyn | 5/25/2010

    " The 200-page monologue by the painter about art and his friend was indeed a different read. Glad I read it, as the style was so unusual. Great finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bhavya | 3/22/2010

    " Beautifully written. It engages and immerses you in it.
    I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to seeing more from this author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/27/2010

    " Splendid! I really enjoyed this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Janice | 1/8/2010

    " In a shallow and disgusting attempt to achieve post-modern relevance, Pears betrays his reader in the last five pages. Avoid at all costs! "

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About the Author
Author Iain PearsIAIN PEARS is the author of the best sellers An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio and Stone’s Fall, and a novella, The Portrait, as well as a series of acclaimed detective novels, a book of art history, and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects. He lives in Oxford, England.
About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.