I started reading this book a year or so ago, but wasn't ready for it then. However, on giving it another try I'm absolutely smitten with the story and the people in it. Up to a point. The ending..... well, let's just say that although summing things up can be kind of nice, in this case, summing up and tying with a giant bow and a big balloon and a voice from above stating that everyone lived happily ever after (exaggeration on my part!) might have been just a bit much. It's the reason why I didn't give more stars. However, if you're interested, go ahead and google some of the artists mentioned: Watteau, Constable, Caravaggio, etc. because seeing what they produced, the types of art they painted, will make the story come even more alive for you. And, by the way, the Caravaggio she describes truly does exist, was lost for centuries, and then found in an attic and went on to be sold for an astronomical price at auction.
Food, art, love twists, family drama, history, stories of deception, addiction but in the end truth and love prevails; what a ride! love, love it!
Rothchild was moved as a young woman by Watteau’s portrait of Pierrot in the Louvre. The artist’s adeptness at transferring his feelings of love and loneliness into images was her inspiration for the fictional painting she called “The Improbability of Love.” This small canvas takes centre stage in her novel of the same name. With her lively satire of the art world, Hannah Rothchild shows how works of art are “humanity’s secret diary,” containing messages that are difficult to express in other ways.
Through a dizzying array of characters who either collect art, curate it, or service the needs of the wealthy, Rothchild weaves a tale of excess where money, power and status are all interrelated. She embroils these people in a complex plot involving art theft and betrayals that reaches back to Nazi Germany. Through this convoluted story, we see how the value of a particular piece can be enhanced, sometimes to unimaginable heights.
My review wouldn’t be complete without mention of Annie, the character who discovers the Watteau painting languishing in a junk shop and brings it home. Through her work as a wonderfully creative chef who services the wealthy folks that people the art world, we see food itself raised to an art form. For Annie, food is like performance art - its power lies in its transience and immediacy - and it speaks of love, memory, the past, and the future.
Whether you like mysteries, art or fine dining, there is something in this charming story for everyone.
Surprises, plot twists, bizarre characters, a painting that tells us it's own history - what's not to like. I had to read the amazing dinner scenes twice! Highly recommended. Topical, historical, character driven. Ending was not expected, but workable.
Rose in PR
At times incredibly beautiful writing, compelling characters and evocative imagery ... and at other times I found myself skimming through certain chapters. This book could have done with a strict editor to streamline the plot and get rid of a few superfluous characters. But, I did enjoy it and found some of the chapters (particularly those written from the painting's POV) to be very moving.
Art, cooking and love are blended together with history in a book that serves up a sensational sensory experience. I could clearly imagine the painter painting and smell the food cooking. A clever novel that is highlighted by the painting declaring its thinking by soliloquy throughout the novel. I also learned a great deal about the art world and the machinations of that arena. Highly entertaining and enjoyable.
Broken-hearted Annie McDee, new to London, aspires to be a chef and kind heartedly buys a painting as a gift for a new friend’s birthday. When she’s stood up and tries to return the painting, her life takes an unexpected turn.
What a hoot. Rothchild has written a delightful satire of the art world, full of characters to cheer and boo. Annie’s cooking adventures are pure pleasure. Lots of twists and turns in this artful mystery. For fans of art lost and found, the Amber Room even makes an appearance.
I loved the prologue but after a few chapters I skimmed the book. The blurb compares it with Evelyn Waugh who would have written a much shorter book with fewer and more complex characters. For art themed mysteries try Iain Pears.
This is a satire about the London art world, characterized by greed, deceit and philistinism. The novel is peopled with caricatures. Although the book is easy to read and contains some interesting reflections about art, it is a little long and the ending is simply silly.
Many, many characters, a few, brief historical tidbits, and some interesting musings about the power of art. A pretty quick read and a peak into what likely is a foreign world to most of us. A pleasant diversion with a highly improbable plot and cast.
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