Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Apothecary's House - Adrian Mathews

The Apothecary's House is a story set in wintery Amsterdam, with a story which stretches back over 250 years. Ruth Braams is a solitary art-historian working on processing claims on artwork stolen by the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands. One day while working at the Rijksmuseum, she meets the elderly, and possibly dotty Lydia who has registered a claim on an odd little painting. However, an opposing claim has also been registered and soon Ruth finds herself being drawn into a dark and dangerous adventure.

Matthews has really captured the essence of the city of Amsterdam in this novel - from the foggy mornings to the frozen canals. He has also done an impressive amount of research, stretching from 18th century Amsterdam right through to the goings-on in Nazi-occupied Holland. 

However, the novel is lengthy (700 pages) and this does detract from what could be a decent and interesting art history mystery. The twist and revelation is good, but is overwhelmed by overuse of arcane writing.

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