Object of Virtue
"When we call something an object of virtue, it means two things:
that each piece of the whole object is perfect … And it means
that the person who made it could show their ability in a variety
of skills in one object," explained the character Nina Ozerovsky in
the opening chapter of OBJECT OF VIRTUE.
Sasha Ozerovsky, son of Nina, has been raised to recognize such
objects when he sees them. His mother had given him the rare gift
of her educated eye as well as her exquisite taste. Sasha turns all
he has learned from his mother into a career at Leighton's, an
auction house that vies for only the best objects and the best
clientele with New York's better known Sotheby's and Christie's.
What started out as Nicholson's attempt at a tell-all story about
the privileged world of these exclusive houses became instead a
novel of some suspense. A "new rich" dealer from Russia presents
Sasha with what appears to be a rare Fabergé figurine for
commission at Leighton's, and Sasha must determine its
His career on the line, Sasha travels to Russia to uncover the
truth about the piece and, unbeknownst to him beforehand, the truth
about his family.
Does Nicholas B.A. Nicholson's debut novel OBJECT OF VIRTUE live up
to his own two-part definition of an object of virtue?
Yes and no.
While not a perfect novel, OBJECT OF VIRTUE is a good first piece
of fiction. The characters are well drawn. The backdrops --- New
York and Russia, their culture, their history, their society ---
are as much characters as the men and women who grace the pages,
and sometimes the facts are more interesting than the people, well
drawn or not. The writing is good and clean, but does not stand out
as exceptional by any means. So each piece is not perfect but good
OBJECT OF VIRTUE does give Nicholson the opportunity to share his
knowledge in a variety of ways. Nicholson's own career as an expert
of Russian decorative arts is on full display, in the present-day
dealings Sasha has with owners and collectors and in the historical
flashbacks to the craftsmen who worked on rare Fabergé pieces.
These peeks at the past are steeped in Russian history and art
history, and there's no denying Nicholson's expertise here.
Nicholson also gives us a unique look at the upper echelons of New
York society, or how the other half lives, as the expression goes.
And finally, he provides us the insider's perspective on the
auction world that we commonplace ebay-ers can only dream of.
Nicholson's familiarity with all these areas is evidenced in his
story and becomes the backbone that keeps the fiction
So while I liked OBJECT OF VIRTUE, looking back at Nina's
definition, I am left with one question at the end: does Nicholson
have another story in him, or has he tapped all his
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 13, 2011
Object of Virtue
- Publication Date: April 6, 2004
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone
- ISBN-10: 0743257839
- ISBN-13: 9780743257831