Cover Image: The Artist Vanishes

The Artist Vanishes

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Member Reviews

To say I struggled with this one would be an understatement. While the main character Sophie was an interesting character, the story was just not gripping enough to keep me involved. Was it too many descriptive paragraphs? Possibly. But the story itself didn't pull me in enough to keep me interested in the mystery surrounding Sophie's disappearance or exactLy why a filmmaker would be so obsessed with her. I e spoken to other friends who've read this book and they thought it was incredible and they enjoyed it, so it may be that this just wasn't for me.
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The book has a strong start, it had such an eerie  feel to it that grabbed you from the very first page. 

The mystery woven into the present and the flashbacks to the past giving us a glimpse of what Sophie was like, was interesting at first but towards the middle of the book, the story just got boring. 
I kept reading to determine why Sophie was so puzzling and odd as a character and why her work and her subsequent disappearance was so mysterious as well as scandalous. Unfortunately, I couldn't make much sense of it, I felt the story was just being dragged and the mystery surrounding the character and her disappearance was being painted in more and more eerie layers without an end in sight. 

James was a bland character and I just couldn't bother with his chapters, neither was I interested in his obsession with the artist. 

Although Sophie was a fascinating character but one character just couldn't save this book from falling into my disappointment list and the premise if not dragged could've made an interesting book. 
The main fault, now that I think of it besides the length was the writing style, it wasn't riveting enough. The book didn't have a strong middle and ending. 
Wouldn't recommend it. 

Thanks netgalley and penguin random house for this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Artist Sophie Tugiers has been missing for several years and her disappearance is something of a mystery. She has received a grant from a pharmaceutical company however there are many people in her life that could have harmed Sophie. However, when a film maker begins to investigate what happened past and present collide.

I really enjoyed the dual timelines of the past and present timelines. .The cast of characters was compelling and the although the story was centred around a thriller story It was far more complex and intriguing.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review
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I enjoyed the literary prose and found the central plot quite interesting. The mystery James is trying to unravel kept my interest but occasionally I had to flit back to check which character I was reading because the voices were not as distinct as I'd like. Its one of those unusual books that you can't stop reading even though you don't particularly like either of the main characters and some of the themes make you uncomfortable. I'll be looking out for more from Westby-Nunn!
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I went into this one blind so I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but it was quite an amusing read. I did find the build up to the mystery a little slow and it took a while for the action to take place but overall I thought the plot was quite clever.

This was told in a dual timeline, Then and Now. Then, focuses on Sophie, a struggling artist who rose to fame and is known for her controversial artwork. She is constantly trying to live up to her celebrity lifestyle but soon she realises fame comes at a price. She mysteriously disappeared after receiving backlash from her last art installation. Now, focuses on James, a film maker who is looking for inspiration to kickstart his career again. When he discovered that he’s living in Sophie’s old flat before she disappeared, he went on a mission to find out what really happened to Sophie.

The story touches on a range of issues from political corruption to moral values or social identities. It showed how fame can get over our heads and how we truly portrayed ourselves in the face of social media. How quick a person can rise to fame and how quickly social media can drag them down.

None of the characters were particularly memorable or likeable but it made the story more realistic in a way because of how the plot went. I really felt for Sophie in the end when the chapters revealed her story. It really gave me an insight to how torn a person can be when they are forced to choose between making a name themselves or creating a cause for the greater good. 

The story does leave readers with an open ending but I thought everything wrap up nicely so I don’t mind it. Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Books SA for the arc.
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The Artist Vanishes was an interesting and unusual read. It's literary fiction mixed with mystery/crime/thriller.
I liked the parts of the book about art and the art world, but then the book turned a bit too political for my taste.
It just wasn't what I expected from this novel.
The writing was good and the mystery kept me on my toes. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I had no idea that this book was going to take a political slant. Had I of known I would not have requested it. This just isn't my cup of tea.
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A mystery with major literary fiction vibes, The Artist Vanishes is a story told in dual perspectives—Sophie's prior to her disappearance, and James' after she has disappeared. The former is a controversial artist who just happened to tick all the right boxes. Thus, rising to fame only for it to bring her downfall and then, her vanishing. The latter is an alcoholic divorcee and documentary filmmaker who unwittingly moves into Sophie's old apartment and gets convinced by his daughter to do a film on Sophie. 

This dual-narrative with alternating timelines allows us to have insight into both main characters and for a more holistic story. However, while I appreciate it, I also have to admit that it both works and doesn't work. The pacing for both POVs is slightly different—with Sophie's often feeling rushed or filler-ish compared to James'. Nevertheless, I understand this is because the tension and answers are on her side and to make her chapters less disjointed could risk unveiling those answers way too early in the story. 

What I enjoyed most from this book is its commentary on the interdependence of art and the social-cultural, and the portrayal of all that's involved in the creative scene. These aspects were well when into the story, providing all the good, the bad and the neutral on one dining table as food for thought.

The book also touches on the complexity and contradictions of the things that shape who a person is and how they live their life and the desire for acceptance and acknowledgement. These other aspects come to life in Sophie's POV, which made me feel for her. In comparison, they felt more shallow in James. I didn't particularly care for him outside of the times he was actively putting together the pieces to Sophie's disappearance. Honestly, the way he lusted after practically every female he came across was disgusting. I get that it's his character but yeah, not pleasant to read.

Everything considered, The Artist Vanishes is a solid read. Though the answers to the mystery are rather obvious, the mystery still (largely) worked well with the narrative, and it gets solved in a satisfying way. The open ending threw me off a little since it felt so anticlimactic after everything, but it's not bad.

If you're a fan of literary fiction and would love for it to have elements of thrillers or mystery in it, this book is one you've got to give a go.
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It should come as no surprise that Terry Westby-Nunn is a conceptual and visual artist. Not only because the main character of her new novel is an also onee, but this is also clearly a novel written by someone who looks at life from a different perspective.

The artist referred to in the title and one of the two narrators in the novel is Sophie Tugiers. When we are introduced to Sophie as character she has been missing for several years. Through the eyes of James Dempster, an ex-journalist and documentary filmmaker, we unravel the controversy surrounding her mysterious disappearance. The narration flits between the present narrated by James and the past voiced by Sophie. It’s left up to the reader to piece together the fragments of both.

Full review on blog:
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The Artist Vanishes is an incredible book that challenged me intellectually and emotionally. It wasn't easy to read at times but the magnetic writing and captivating mystery kept my attention. The dual timeline explores the parallel lives of Sophie, an artist who went missing after the backlash to her art installation, and James, a filmmaker making a comeback after the collapse of his personal life. 

Sophie's section shows her rise from a struggling artist to a famous celebrity, and the pressure for her to maintain that lifestyle. The book shows the dark side of art and capitalism, and asks questions on the ethics of research. It also shows the flimsiness of connection and how your relationships can make or break you. James's section is more straightforward in his quest to find out what happened to Sophie and interviews people close to her. Not everyone is cooperative and he has to deal with setbacks as he considers his own reasons for being involved. I found that many of the characters were not easy to like but their flaws and messy decisions feel realistic. I also really liked the setting in Cape Town that is described vividly and feel fully lived in. The ending is left open but I was satisfied at how everything wraps up. Recommended if you're looking for a smart literary mystery.
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Dark, gripping profound - The Artist Vanishes is less a mystery novel as a piece of literary political commentary with a mystery at its core. In two interweaving timelines we follow the stories of the young artist who has vanished, and the middle-aged documentary film-maker who has moved into her apartment and becomes fascinated by her dissapearance. But when he begins to dig deeper, he quickly realises that not all is as it seems, and the stakes are higher than he ever imagined; before he, too, is forced to make the same decision that Sophie was faced with. 
The Artist Vanishes touches on a variety of hot topics, from political to sociological to moral; it asks what fame does to us, and who we are in the mirror of social media; how quickly the internet can hype us to gods - or drag us down to the gutter; and what it means to be human in this world. Where do you find your moral compass when north is everywhere? 
I'd recommend this to anyone who likes literary mysteries that touch on deeper questions and don't mind a slower narrative.
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I loved the aspects of this novel that delved into the art world-- Sophie is a fascinating protagonist to explore questions of art vs. commerce, morals vs. money, etc. Unfortunately I didn't find the "present" timeline to be particularly interesting. While the mystery of it all was truly mysterious, it didn't unravel in a satisfying way. This one took a while to get through.
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Thanks to Penguin Books and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. This was a solid thriller that I'll recommend to friends when it comes out in the spring! This is the author's 2nd novel and I'd definitely read more by her in the future.
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A great read that keeps you guessing. An unusual storyline with interesting characters. Highly recommended.
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The Artist Vanishes is an interesting and accurate dilemma and commentary on the interdependence of the art and the social/cultural scenes.

What I first thought of being a thriller novel became an artistic and political commentary. Terry Westby-Nunn touches on the contradictions that shape our lives and agendas, the longing for acceptance and social recognition and our relationship with fame.

I only wished the author explored the themes on a deeper level. The dialogues between the main characters seemed unnatural, staged, and sell-like focused. The book pacing was also a little slow. It took chapters before a gripping action took place, making this thriller a little underwhelming. What is more, I could not relate to the characters. The cast was unlikeable, unreliable and frustrating at some points. And finally, the book, unfortunately, did not give any concrete resolution with its open ending, both from a plot perspective and the characters’.

The Artist Vanishes had a captivating premise, but unfortunately, the story was not for me.
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The book follows two timelines: one is in the past, regarding the events of artist Sophie, from her rise to success to her mysterious disappearance; one is in the present, where documentarist James is making a movie on the vanished artist. 
Wonderful read!
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This book took a while to get into and when I did I still felt like there was something missing but, mind you, I am very picky about thrillers and I read a lot of them but I think this could really work for someone trying to get into the genre or wanting more of a literary mystery. I think my general disappointment is due to my own expectations of what a thriller should be. Overall not a thrilling book in my opinion but not a bad one either.
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This was a hard one first me to get through. It took me several weeks, and that was only partly due to a lack of free time. It was slow. And not slow-burn slow, just... slow. Not a lot happened, there was a negligible sense of urgency, and the mystery wasn't much of a mystery. 
Vaguely unlikable emerging artist/animal rights activist sells out, accepts huge grant from a pharma company intent on cleaning up its image, her second art project flops spectacularly, someone dies, she disappears. Years later, a washed-up,   vaguely unlikable journalist is convinced to do a documentary about her by his daughter, as he is living in her old flat. Not a lot happens.
The fact that they lived in the same flat was barely referred to and had no bearing on the plot, apart from being a MacGuffin at the very start. The father-daughter relationship is barely referred to again, either. Which, ok, I'm not mad at, I prefer a plot driven story to a character driven one, but it didn't work here. Because the plot was, essentially, will the vaguely unlikable journalist finish his documentary? Yeah, we learn about the vaguely unlikable emerging artist, and we do eventually find out what became of her (sort of) and why  she disappeared, but we never get any real resolution. Which might have been ok if I cared about the characters, but I didn't.
This one just wasn't for me.

One last note. Throughout the story, the death of a man names Martin is repeatedly brought up. It's all a bit mysterious. Who was he? Why did he die? Why did it ruin the artist's career? Except that it was so vague that I kept thinking, did I miss something? Did she explain earlier on and I blanked out? I kept confusing Martin with Robin, the gallery owner. When we finally learn who he actually was and what happened, I just thought, huh, ok. Which kind of summed up my attitude toward the book as a whole.
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Totally enjoyable literary mystery with dual timelines: one charting a troubled artist's rise to fame, embroilment in controversy, and subsequent disappearance, and the other following an equally troubled documentarian's quest to make a film about the missing artist. I found it perhaps a little slow to get going, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down.
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It took me a page or two to get totally immersed in Sophie's life and in James' life, the filmmaker who is trying to make sense of who she is and what happened to her.   The tension builds and the questions remains, will we ever know what happens to her or will it be left unfinished in that way.   This book was much better than I expected and  was glad I read it
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