The Improbability of Love

Hannah Rothschild

Fiction  2015 | 406 pages

four-hearts

If it were winter, I would recommend this book for a long, cold, winter weekend.  It is a novel that you just want to lose yourself in. A cup of hot chocolate at your side, you will eagerly turn the next page.  Rich with story, character development, and depth, an improbable tale weaves together centuries of art, Naziism and Jews, culinary delight, and the beginnings of love.

The Improbability of Love is not what you likely imagine right now ... it is actually the title of an 18th century oil masterpiece. The painting is fictional; the painter, Jean-Antoine Watteau, is not.

Annie McDee, a struggling chef, buys this painting at a junk shop for a man she met at a speed-dating event.  He stands her up and the painting becomes hers.  Annie’s alcoholic mother Evie has an intuition that this painting is important and urges Annie to research it.  Thus begins a tale of London’s outrageous art scene, with dealers, museum curators, art auction houses, authenticators, art authors, restorers, socialites, and a delightful gay “fixer.” We follow all these characters through the discovery of the real provenance of this dirty and smudged lost painting.

The most delightful chapters are those written by the painting itself, as it informs us about how it feels about all these shenanigans, as well as a bit about all the walls it has hung on over the centuries.

Yes, there are a few discontinuities in Ms. Rothschild’s writing, but not enough to upset.  This is Rothschild’s first novel, though she has written non-fiction in the art scene. The book integrates passion, power, violence, loyalty, intrigue, mystery, love.  And yes, you can read it in the spring in your back yard as the daffodils begin to bloom, just as well as on a wintry eve. I recommend you do so.

Thank you, Claire, for a gratifying recommendation.

April 2021

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *