The Talented Miss Farwell

by Emily Gray Tedrowe

The Talented Miss Farwell

Goodreads description:

At the end of the 1990s, with the art market finally recovered from its disastrous collapse, Miss Rebecca Farwell has made a killing at Christie’s in New York City, selling a portion of her extraordinary art collection for a rumored 900 percent profit. Dressed in couture YSL, drinking the finest champagne at trendy Balthazar, Reba, as she’s known, is the picture of a wealthy art collector. To some, the elusive Miss Farwell is a shark with outstanding business acumen. To others, she’s a heartless capitalist whose only interest in art is how much she can make.

But a thousand miles from the Big Apple, in the small town of Pierson, Illinois, Miss Farwell is someone else entirely—a quiet single woman known as Becky who still lives in her family’s farmhouse, wears sensible shoes, and works tirelessly as the town’s treasurer and controller. 

No one understands the ins and outs of Pierson’s accounts better than Becky; she’s the last one in the office every night, crunching the numbers. Somehow, her neighbors marvel, she always finds a way to get the struggling town just a little more money. What Pierson doesn’t see—and can never discover—is that much of that money is shifted into a separate account that she controls, “borrowed” funds used to finance her art habit. Though she quietly repays Pierson when she can, the business of art is cutthroat and unpredictable. 

But as Reba Farwell’s deals get bigger and bigger, Becky Farwell’s debt to Pierson spirals out of control. How long can the talented Miss Farwell continue to pull off her double life? 

Helen says: 🤓🤓1/2

This book was touted as an “art world embezzlement thriller”, but really it was a “hamburger helper” snoozer. It was very descriptive and filled with lots of mundane, Midwest, middle class details. I almost gave up, but it finally picked up 25% of the way through. This book had potential, but it fell flat. It could have been a lot better. Don’t bother. Fun fact: Miss Farwell was loosely based on Rita Crundwell, an Illinois government employee that embezzled close to $54 million dollars over a 20 year period. She was on the news a lot in 2012.

Holly says: 🤓🤓🤓

Meh…this one took some perseverance to get through. Miss Farwell is NOT really as likeable as the book jacket represents. This is a good story, sort of original (?), but it just drug on too long. Of all the books we read this month, this is my least favorite. but still a decent read. I don’t have much patience for cheeky embezzlers who think they are smarter than the rest of us. Don’t put it at the top of your list, but an okay read. This could be a very good movie – probably a better movie than book.

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