In Berlin at the end of the 1920s, a set of fake Van Goghs sent the art world reeling. The paintings had passed through the hands of Otto Wacker, an obscure Berlin art dealer, and had long been accepted as genuine. But in late 1928, some of Wacker’s clients sued him. Four years later, a court declared that the works were forgeries. At the time of the trial even esteemed critics were shocked. Drawing on these events, Clare Clark’s In the Full Light of the Sun paints a compelling picture of a society in flux. Clark, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, has written several acclaimed novels, two of which have been longlisted for the Orange Prize, but her latest is perhaps her most ambitious yet.
The novel opens in 1923. A middle-aged art critic, Julius, is floundering after publishing a successful book on Van Gogh, fettered by writer’s block and dealing with a messy divorce. A wave of enthusiasm fills him after he meets Matthias, an upstart art dealer with a notable collection