EDGAR AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
“Startlingly inventive.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A sheer delight to read . . . I had no idea what was going to happen from one page to the next.” —Kate Atkinson
On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels—and she becomes another young woman entirely.
Unbecoming is an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel that turns on suspense and slippery identity. With echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Rebecca Scherm’s mesmerizing debut is sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt.
Scherm's debut novel traces the transformation of a smalltown American girl into a professional international jewel thief. The novel opens in Paris, where 23-year-old Grace from Garland, Tenn., posing as Julie from California, earns a meager living restoring antiques and repairing jewelry. Grace's boss has her working on what are probably stolen items, and Grace is not above stealing a few gems herself, but her biggest worry is that her husband, Riley, and her onetime lover, Alls, both recently released from a Tennessee prison, will track her down. She hasn't been in touch with either since their arrest for a robbery Grace initiated before escaping to Europe in possession of a stolen painting. Through flashbacks, Scherm shows Grace, Riley, and Alls growing up together: Riley, the privileged son of a doctor and his nurturing wife; Grace, welcomed like a daughter by Riley's parents; Alls, raised without wealth or even a mother to become more dangerous than Riley. Scherm mixes a character study with a caper novel full of double-crosses, lies, and betrayals, as when Grace is robbed immediately after selling the stolen painting. She is at her best when describing precious objects: a Dutch master's still life, a James Mont cigar box with hidden compartment, an ornate centerpiece with fanciful fruit and figurines, and silver spoons ignored by their owners but appreciated by the professional hired to evaluate them.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I enjoyed the first half of the book as we got to know the characters but the more you got to a know them and especially Grace, the more I did not like them and did not care what became of them.