A Fine Imitation

University of Georgia alumnus Amber Brock explores the classic theme of “money can’t buy happiness” in her debut novel “A Fine Imitation.”

She will come back to Athens to discuss the book at a launch on May 5 at Avid Bookshop. The event will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and be free to the public.

Brock’s novel is set in the 1920s and revolves around a woman named Vera Bellington who finds herself deeply restricted by her lavish life despite its perfect appearance. A chance encounter with the artist Emil Hallan causes her to question the life she has and if this is really what she wants.

Brock originally got the idea for the novel from a vivid, movielike dream she had one night.

“In the dream I saw a woman, and she was living in a luxury high rise building, and an artist had come into the building to paint a mural,” Brock said. “I felt the strongest connection between the artist and the woman, and even when I woke up I kept thinking about that relationship and what that kind of life might be like.”

After having the dream, Brock decided to do the research necessary to turn it into an actual book. Part of that research included gaining a deeper appreciation for art in order to give authentic reaction to Emil’s work, and looking beyond the typical images and ideas of the 1920s in order to capture a different view.

As a current teacher of British literature at a private girls’ school, she also found it important to gain knowledge about women’s education challenges in the ‘20s and show how Vera navigated around them.

“In writing the novel I felt a real responsibility to my students, as women, to really have a women-centered view of this story and to really give an ending that made it seem like she had made an authentic choice,” Brock said.

Despite the current craziness of her schedule, with the end of the school year approaching at her job, Brock will be having her book launch in Athens as a way to connect with the place that felt like home during her years at UGA. Somewhere between 20 and 30 people are expected to attend, and Avid will be curating a special drink to go along with the book.

“[This book launch] definitely celebrates the artistic achievements of someone who has attended UGA,” said Rachel Kaplan, Avid Bookshop assistant events coordinator. “ Athens is this cultural pub and it’s just great to recognize many amazing artistic endeavors that our residents take part in.”

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