Painting a Love Story
Two quotes precede the start of Peter Carey’s Theft: A Love Story. The first might as well describe Michael Boone, a painter and the novel’s first narrator:
Am I to be a king, or just a pig?
— Flaubert, Intimate Notebook
The second may describe Hugh Boone, Michael’s brother and the novel’s other narrator:
Joachim had been born before the war, in the years when children still had to learn by heart the thirteen reasons for using a capital letter. To these he had added one more of his own, which was that he would, in all circumstances, do exactly what he wished.
— Macado Fernandez, One Man
The plot mixes art fraud into the story of the two brothers and their friend Marlene, who colors their adventures in the world of painting.
Is this a love story? Yes, but like the art fraud, the love story painted throughout much of the novel is a forgery. However, if one peels back these layers of paint in the narrative, a genuine love story emerges in the canvas of the plot. It is this hidden love story that makes the novel a work of art.