Claire is a pariah in the art world. Though she continues to paint and work on her own art, she cannot get a show, and struggles to sell her work. As a result, she also works for a website that sells quality reproductions of paintings by the masters, her particular specialty being Degas. At the beginning of the novel, Claire receives a visit from Aiden, a gallery owner that she knew before she became an outcast, and he makes a proposition to her: he has somehow gotten a hold of a Degas painting that was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and wants her to make a reproduction of it. His arguments, the money and the promise of her own work being shown at his gallery are all too tempting to resist, and Claire agrees to copy this missing masterpiece.