Read The Lower Quarter: A Novel by Elise Blackwell Online


A man murdered during Katrina in a hotel room two blocks from her art-restoration studio was closely tied to a part of Johanna’s past that she would like kept secret. But missing from the crime scene is a valuable artwork painted in 1926 by a renowned Belgian artist that might bring it all back.An acquaintance, Clay Fontenot, who has enabled a wide variety of personal violA man murdered during Katrina in a hotel room two blocks from her art-restoration studio was closely tied to a part of Johanna’s past that she would like kept secret. But missing from the crime scene is a valuable artwork painted in 1926 by a renowned Belgian artist that might bring it all back.An acquaintance, Clay Fontenot, who has enabled a wide variety of personal violations in his life, some of which he has enjoyed, is the scion of a powerful New Orleans family. And Marion is an artist and masseuse from the Quarter who has returned after Katrina to rebuild her life. When Eli, a convicted art thief, is sent to find the missing painting, all of their stories weave together in the slightly deranged halls of the Quarter....

Title : The Lower Quarter: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781609531195
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Lower Quarter: A Novel Reviews

  • Kalen
    2019-06-30 04:22

    My favorite Elise Blackwell book, even better than An Unfinished Score. Reminded me a bit of The Art Forger but much, much darker and complex. The interweaving of all of the characters was great and this will be a perfect selection for book clubs because there is *so* much to talk about.

  • Diana
    2019-07-06 12:06

    I didn't connect with the story or any of the characters. Some parts were so vague it was irritating and some parts I didn't understand. Meh.

  • Cat
    2019-06-28 08:05

    Such fun to read! An intriguing, atmospheric mystery with a strong cast of wounded characters, trying to find their way through a storm-torn city. Blackwell does a wonderful job depicting the hesitations, the scars, the fledgling bids for intimacy and connection that motivate the characters at the center of the book, and she uses the trope of restoration, both of the city and of paintings, to carry them through their journey. There's a fascinating focus on bodies and their surfaces in this novel that plays out in powerful fashion in the novel's resolution.My one hesitation about the novel is the lack of black characters in a thriller so deliberately set in the wake of Katrina. This is particularly notable because the (arguable) hero, Elizam, is from Puerto Rico, and his passion is associated with his political resistance and transnational experiences, while the (arguable) heroine is from the Balkans. The novel seems more attuned to how many transnational currents find their way through/in New Orleans than it is to the history of enslavement that constituted one of those major currents and also contributed to the population of New Orleans so signally before the storm. The impoverished black population that was decimated during the storm doesn't get much acknowledgment in the novel, though there is one symbolic scene where one of the major white characters, Marion, massages the scarred back from a black man whose accent signals his origins in a postcolony. While this scene is very powerful--including in the deracination of this intimacy (where is the black man from? how does Marion's experience of rootlessness connect to his or does it?), it also threatens to fall into a dehumanizing trope where black bodies stand in for suffering, while black subjecthood is voiceless, or an exotic accent only.I meditate on this hesitation for so long only because I found the novel both narratively and stylistically gripping. A page-turner.

  • Sheri Horton
    2019-07-03 07:24

    Elise Blackwell's books at first glance may seem completely different from one another, and they are in the sense of setting, time and place. But if you really compare them there are so many similarities. They are all beautifully written, of course. But deeper than that, they all have the same themes running through the storyline. There is a perfect sense of place and time. The characters belong to these and would not work elsewhere. The main characters are flawed but are seeking to be better and find their place in the world. And there is always this sense of beauty in them, be it a place, as in 1927 Louisiana, music as in an unfinished score, or a painting that touches the soul that is lost. I'm thankful to have had the chance to be absorbed into this story. So from a fellow Louisiana girl who would live no place else, thanks Elise for this story that kept me dying to get to the end, and then sad because I did.

  • Jeff Tucker
    2019-07-05 09:24

    This book has a lot going for it. The setting is New Orleans, following the devastation by Hurricane Katrina. Residents are starting to return and put their lives back together. Others are moving to the city for the first time, looking for an opportunity. There’s a cast of characters that includes wealthy art collectors, an art thief, a professional art restorer, a bartender, a tattoo artist, a police detective and more. A mysterious man is murdered just before the storm and there’s a small painting missing that’s attracting a lot more attention than it seems it should. From the poverty and desperation of some in the Lower Quarter to mega-rich in the mansions, the author paints a world that draws the reader in and makes the book hard to put down. This book is very well written, with good characters and an imaginative story line.

  • Judy
    2019-07-13 06:11

    Fabulous tale of art and overcoming disaster in post Katrina New Orleans. Some of the best characters I have met in a while. Full review coming soon at Three Guys One Book.

  • Denise
    2019-06-27 11:11

    a little confusing...

  • Mary Havlovic
    2019-07-12 06:30

    Excellent book. Storyline keeps the reader intrigued making it difficult to put the book down until I finished it.

  • Paul
    2019-07-19 10:10

    This is a rather unusual book. It is rather slow to develop, and yet the reader never really gets to know any of the 4 main characters, each of whom have alternating chapters throughout the book. Many details of their past are hinted at but never fully developed. The story takes place in New Orleans right after Katrina, and is about a missing painting, a dead man found in a hotel room just days before Katrina hits, a woman who restores damaged paintings, an art investigator hired to find the missing painting, the son of a well to do New Orleans family, wth very dark tastes and desires, and a woman who helps him achieve those desires. The 4 characters are1. Johanna, who has a dark past in Belgium but now restores paintings in New Orleans.2. Clay, a man from both Johanna's past and currently also in New Orleans. Clay is a sadist you enjoys torturing people online, whom he feels has done him wrong, but also a sadist in his sexual relationships.3. Eli, the art investigator hired to find the missing paining, who has the job as a result of his colorful past, and who set his sights and desires on Johanna.4. Marion who is a bartender, artist, and massage therapist who also helps Clay with his sadistic needs sexually, though these scenes are again mostly hinted at. The bar she works at is across the street from where Johanna, lives and works.This is not a bad book at all, it is just very slow to reveal, what is really going on, uses far too many hints rather than coming right out and saying something, and again oddly doesn't develop most of the characters in a way that allows the reader to bond to any of them.

  • Jen
    2019-06-21 05:14

    Johanna is an art restorer who has just returned to New Orleans a few weeks post-Katrina. Eli is a reformed art thief - turned art recovery specialist, working for a service that returns stolen/misplaced art to its rightful owners - in New Orleans to look for a painting that was stolen many years ago. Clay is a young man from Old New Orleans Money about to come into his trust fund who is both seeking to inflict pain on those he encounters and seeking redemption for a terrible pain he unwittingly inflicted on someone else some time ago. Marion is a young artist/massage therapist/bartender intent on getting a fresh start in New Orleans after a rather crappy beginning to her life. All 4 of these individuals tell their stories in alternating chapters, with all of their paths crossing and their stories rushing toward a convergence that may (or may not) offer a happy ending for all of them.This is best classified as literary fiction, but it is masterful literary fiction. The convergence of the art world and the dark underbelly of the sex industry laid over a just-beginning-to-recover wreck of New Orleans makes for a landscape ripe with possibilities for both joy and despair. The characters are all interesting, but figuring out the nautilus of the story is even more compelling. And there is a satisfactory ending, which can be elusive in the literary world. Highly recommended.

  • Mary Sue
    2019-06-21 11:15

    Katrina has come and gone. New Orleans residents and visitors are returning. Things are found and dealt with such as a lost dog, moldy homes, and a dead body in a hotel room. Cause of death was murder not drowning or starvation or thirst. Business owners are thrilled to see customers thought to be missing. New people arrive also, which surprised me.There are four main characters whose stories are intertwined. Johana has an art restoration shop just reopened in the Lower Quarter at the edge of the French Quarter. She has lots of business do to because of Katrina damage. The one real joy in her life is a small painting she keeps hidden in her upstairs apartment. Clay is soon to come into his inheritance, he enjoys the luxury of a Garden District mansion. Clay is at odds with his cruel father, but he has a manipulative streak of his own. Marion is a masseuse by need, an artist by choice, and a dominatrix or sadomasochist for reasons of her own. Eli is a convicted art thief who has been released from prison early to use his knowledge to find missing art works. This is a story of getting reestablished in many many ways.

  • Leslie
    2019-07-06 08:17

    I think the author does a nice job putting the reader in a small section of post-Katrina NOLA. The mystery didn't really grab me, but the writing was good enough to keep me going. And relieved that any violence was hinted at, rather than described in super graphic manner. I would try another Elise Blackwell book. Just finished the last three (short) chapters. I feel very satisfied and would recommend this book.

  • Kim Alkemade
    2019-07-03 09:14

    Set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the characters are each trying to reconstruct lives blown up by tragic circumstance, oppressive family or dangerous desires. The plot brings together human trafficking and art dealing and cyberstalking in a convincing way that never loses focus on the humanity of each character. I really enjoyed this novel and was surprised by the way all the different characters ended up coming together.

  • Clifford
    2019-07-10 09:02

    Three mysteries in one: who committed the murder? where is the missing painting? and who is the "rightful owner" to which it is supposed to be returned?A compelling read.Read my full review here: The Lower Quarter by Elise Blackwell

  • Tyler Mcmahon
    2019-06-28 11:21

    Four very different lives intersect in post-Katrina New Orleans. Blackwell weaves a compelling, layered story around stolen art, kinky sex, and unsolved murder. At its core, The Lower Quarter is a powerful and resonant study on the act of starting over.

  • Patricia
    2019-07-18 09:02

    The descriptions of the Quarter after the Storm are spot on, and the author captured the Halloween parade perfectly. But this is really New Orleans NOIR, bizarre characters trying to find their lives in the city after Katrina.. this is quite the story.. not for the feint of heart either.

  • Kathy C. pittaway
    2019-06-24 12:16

    Beautifully layered and revealingA nuanced but realistic view of the Quarter and adjacent cultures. So much art in New Orleans and this is the most personal perspective I've encountered. Multiple cultural interactions are enlightening and bring the lower Quarter to life.

  • Jerry
    2019-07-12 04:10

    Oh my ... so many female authors I've encountered lately, not being at all nice to their female characters. Powerful stuff here, wonderful sense of place, multiple layers of mystery, very different characters colliding ... do read this one. Brave and bracing.

  • Meredith
    2019-07-21 09:21

    This novel could be the lovechild of Bel Canto and The Goldfinch.Thoroughly enjoyable.

  • SaraJean
    2019-07-03 08:24

    I have seldom read a book this beautiful. Both prose and plot are impeccable.

  • Joan
    2019-07-10 12:26

    Disappointing. I liked the characters and the plot was okay but lacking in Crescent City atomsphere. Seems like the only writers who can capture New Orleans are the ones who live there...

  • Libsue
    2019-06-20 04:28

    A couldn't put down book. Could have done without some of the macabre content (just my personal preference) but still worth the read. A great story set in one of my favorite places.

  • Utah Hornbakers
    2019-07-02 09:25

    More 2 1/2 than 3, but today I am feeling like rounding up.

  • Rtamura
    2019-06-22 06:16

    New Orleans residences getting their lives together after Katrina. Art owership is haunted by past current and past collectors are one aspect of the story line.

  • Caroline
    2019-07-08 04:14

    I've loved everything by Blackwell except this one which felt utterly meaningless, I'm sorry to say.

  • Kate
    2019-07-18 10:20

    Very hard to put down!