I have mixed feelings about this book. Upfront, it's pure fiction; other than the artists' names, their work, and the broad strokes of accomplishment, it's made up out of whole cloth.
This is the part I had issues with, I guess. I don't know enough about Degas, Cassatt, Morisot and Manet, with the result that I feel like this book has unfairly coloured my impressions of them as people. I'm going to forever be guarding against mixing up this story with the reality of 4 of the most talented impressionist painters who've yet lived.
But if you're able to keep fact and fiction seperate, this is a heartfelt, well-written story about people who might have taken the wrong turn at the fork in the road of life. It's slow-paced, but always interesting; I enjoyed it, but it wasn't a fast read. The end also has a high probability of making readers misty eyed of not weeping outright. Oliveira is very talented at creating a sympathetic anti-hero; one that you want to hug as much as you want to smack.
At some point though, I'm going to have to follow this up with more information about these artists and their real lives so I don't every accidentally try to pass off as fact the imaginations of Oliveira's mind.