11 Oct 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered

Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting - a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called 'The Improbability of Love'. Delving into the painting's past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history - and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

FIRST SENTENCE {PROLOGUE: THE AUCTION (3 JULY)}: It was going to be the sale of the century.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 26}: I sat at Bernoff's getting lonelier and lonelier. It is arrogant to presume human beings have the monopoly on communication - we pictures converse with like-minded objects. You try maintaining a relationship with a cake tin or a Toby jug.

SOURCE: A Reader's Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Uh-oh! 'Prize winning shortlisted' alert.

Despite its amazon.co.uk headline of 'SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016' and the gushing book cover reviews from various publications, alas, all too often finding they don't live up to all the hype, I don't generally fare too well with such prize winning/prize winning shortlisted/prize winning nominated fiction. Would The Improbability Of Love be any different?

So called chic-lit with the addition of  .... Satire?

Surely with names such as Venetia Trumpington-Turner, M Power Dub-Box, Barthomley Chesterfield Fitzroy St George (nee Reg Dunn) - to say nothing of the fact that part of the book is narrated by a somewhat stereotypical French picture - one could be forgiven for thinking so.

Doubtlessly with humorous names but why-oh-why so many characters? In the first six or so pages I counted no less than thirty of them, many of whom (thankfully) as it turned out peripheral to the story and, amongst whom, oddly enough the most memorable of which was the 300 year old painting ... perhaps for no other reason than that amongst such a multitude its voice stood out as being at least that little bit different.

A plot that feasibly would have been all the better if we had heard more of main character Annie's story (as lame as her romance proved to be) instead of the art related sub-plot upon sub-plot to which we were indiscriminately subjected. 

A novel that might have proved more enjoyable if the author had concentrated instead on the 'foodie' element with which authors/publishers/readers currently seem obsessed. Then again, if, instead of long pompous dialogues into the word of art, the story was predominated by long pompous dialogues into cuisine, maybe not.


Suko said...

Thank you for your honest review! This one was not your cup of tea.

Kelly said...

The blurb didn't sound appealing to begin with and by the time I'd finished your thoughts, I knew it wasn't one for me. Your memorable moment did make me laugh a bit, though.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

wow, that's a lot of characters! Sorry this didn't really work for you.

Melliane said...

Ah it's too bad about this one mainly when you feel that it has more potential

Brian Joseph said...

I have been hearing that a lot of books that have been up for awards have disappointed readers lately.

I think that it is important that, as you do Tracy, one this for themselves when evaluating books that have achieved such praise.

I do not know much about the art world, but I have to think that in the right hands, a skilled author can produce some very good fiction from it. Thus, it is unfortunate that this was disappointing.

Tracy Terry said...

The second book based in the art world that my reading group has read recently. The first by Steve Martin didn't go down that well,this one not much better.

Karen Alderman said...

My mother-in-law is always buying, and then sending to me, "prize winning novels".

We do have quite different read tastes but I never understand what is so great about these books. They're always meh to me.

Karen @For What It's Worth

Literary Feline said...

Thirty characters in just six pages is more than a lot. That's insane. I am glad the weren't all characters you were supposed to remember. I'm sorry this wasn't better for you, Tracy.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Ah, this one doesn't grab me much because of the art subplot upon subplot.

Gina R said...

Oh no...too many characters introduced let alone the long dialogues. Sorry to say, but count me out. Thanks for the peek between the pages!