The Improbability of Love
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.
Annie, working in London as a chef, whilst trying to mend a broken heart, finds a painting in a junk shop. Unbeknownst to her it is a lost masterpiece by French painter, Antoine Watteau.
What follows is a mystery that has links to Nazi Germany, a love story, an art history lesson, and a food extravaganza.
It took a while to get into the book. I found there were too many characters, most of whom were not fleshed out and could easily have been dispensed with: rich aristocrats vying for who could spend the most money in the most ridiculous ways.
I enjoyed Annie’s character, her relationship with her mother and Jesse and their attempts to find out the history of the painting. If the book had been pared down to her and the painting’s story it would have been better for it.
The history of the painting is brought to life in an original way by the painting itself, narrating through the 300 years, in chapters throughout the book. Hannah Rothschild is a big player in the art world and her knowledge shines through, giving us an inside view of how the art world works.
Their is much food to be had in the book, as Annie’s career as a chef takes off and these are wonderful chapters. The descriptions of the dishes and the cooking are mouthwatering.
This is a book that I found enjoyable, but would have been more so if the surfeit of superfluous characters had been culled. The ending is, after all the detail, a little rushed to say the least. However if you want to lose yourself in the art world with a mystery and a love story thrown in, you could do a lot worse than this. A good holiday read.