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The Artist's Portrait cover art

The Artist's Portrait

Written by: Julie Keys
Narrated by: Julie Nihill
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Publisher's Summary

A story about art, murder and marking your place in history. 

Whatever it was that drew me to Muriel, it wasn't her charm. 

In 1992, morning sickness drives Jane to predawn walks of her neighbourhood, where she meets an unfriendly woman who sprays her with a hose as she passes by. When they do talk: Muriel Kemp eyes my pregnant belly and tells me if I really want to succeed, I'd get rid of the baby. 

Driven to find out more about her curmudgeonly neighbour, Jane Cooper begins to investigate the life of Muriel, who claims to be a famous artist from Sydney's bohemian 1920s. Contemporary critics argue that legend, rather than ability, has secured her position in history. They also claim that the real Muriel Kemp died in 1936. 

Murderer, narcissist, sexual deviant or artistic genius and a woman before her time: who really is Muriel Kemp?

©2019 Julie Keys (P)2019 Hachette Australia Audio

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-01-22

A book worthy of your full attention

Julie Keys has something special. This book cuts to the quick, with vivid characters that surprise you. I loved the movement between the 1920s and 30s and the 1990s - Keys makes you care about both timelines, and while Muriel is the genius artist, it’s Jane the nurse and writer that I keep thinking about. My advice is not to try and do the dishes or drive while you listen to this story. Keys language is so tight and rich that if you blink you miss something important. Fittingly, this book shows what an artist who is not scared off by what is hard and difficult can achieve, and there’s beauty in the twists and dark places. This is a life-affirming and electrifying story that will haunt you in your waking life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-03-20


Bit depressing and complex. I love it, as it, slightly, reflects my life as an artist.
You have to work and listen in order to understand the characters and you don't necessarily like them, but you enjoy their struggles