The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love[Reading] ➱ The Improbability of Love ➹ Hannah Rothschild – Annie McDee alone after the disintegration of her long term relationship and trapped in a dead end job is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second hand shop Within the ju Annie McDee alone after the disintegration of her long term relationship and trapped in a dead end job is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second hand shop Within the jumble of junk and tack a grimy painting catches her eye Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings she prepares an elaborate dinner for two only to be stood up the gift gathering dust on her mantelpieceBut every painting has a story – and if it could speak what would it tell usFor Annie has stumbled across ‘The The Improbability ePUB ✓ Improbability of Love’ a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau one of the most influential French painters of the eighteenth century Soon Annie is drawn unwillingly into the art world and finds herself pursued by a host of interested parties that would do anything to possess her picture For an exiled Russian oligarch an avaricious Sheika a desperate auctioneer an unscrupulous dealer and several others the painting symbolises their greatest hopes and fears In her search for the painting's true identity Annie will uncover the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she will learn about herself opening up to the possibility of falling in love again. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild is not only the title of this Historical Fiction novel but it's one of the characters narrating part of the story It's a famous masterpiecea painting that 'has a history' It's been around for centuries It's a very valuable expensive desirable painting that has been lost then later found by 31 year old Annie McDee She has come to London to work as a chef while at the same time begin to mend her crushed heart from a broken love relationship When Annie first discovers this painting in a junkyard other that thinking its beautiful she has no idea of its true value or its history or anything about the artist Yet she wants to buy it She is sure her new painting will impress a loverbut things don't turn out that way Antoine Watteau was the artist a French painter His influence on the art world encompassing costume film poetry and music was extensive than almost any other 18th century artist He had many followers during his career but also a lot of critics Note when I looked through images of Watteau's paintingswhat stood out for meBesides being exceptionally beautiful was that the majority of his paintings were done outside under trees with groups of people In some of the paintings the festive community looked like they were celebrating with lavish clothes dancing listening to music or simply socializing The outdoors the trees with his group's of people could almost tell their own story Hannah Rothschild's 'History as Storytelling' is visually imaginative with a mesmerizing plot The plot is grippingwith suspensefunny on the surface but hidden below the surface is the actual authentic emotions Hannah paints with her own dazzling writing brushstrokes a very entertaining and moving look into the modern art world in London The Historical personalities are from all walks of life There are the the wealthy Society types politicians scholars a normal hard working plumber and a vast of uniue characters each dealing with their personal disunities Satire ish funny yet heartbreaking There is a flashback to the Holocaust which moved me and reminded me of another novelI read last year called The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich Both novels are historical fiction novels with the beauty and influence that ART is in our world The mother daughter relationship between Annie and her mother alcoholic comes to lifethrough resentments love and personal growth It was easy to imagine this relationship I couldn't help but remember the movie 912 weeks remember those food scenes?Well Annie is an artist with food I was wanting Annie to use her talents scrumptious cooking as a weapon when she needed most Against the villains You know what they sayLove Food finds a way to a man's heart and possibly the villains expressing a little loveColorful real life characters Crafty artful historical storytellingMany thanks for the gift to read this through First To Read Random House and the very gift author Hannah Rothschild This novel is an advertisement for how to try too hard with style and plot It feels false and is consistently overdone The voice of the painting is an intriguing idea if only because it would be thrilling to be able to access the past through this means but its voice was entirely contemporary and ridiculous because of it Even accounting for the fact that it has experienced much change over a three hundred year 'lifespan' and explains this chatty modernisation by saying it has had to converse with all manner of lower art it's disconcerting and not a little annoying for an artwork to talk like a cheap magazine 'the odd lousy cheap knackered blonde who he'd have uickly sweatily and noisily on the filing cabinet' 'Ralph was effing and blinding' etc I'm obviously missing something since this is a Baileys Prize longlister but I'm praying it's not going on the shortlist because it would be a travestyThanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review Hannah Mary Rothschild was born into British nobility As daughter of the 4th Baron Rothschild himself a member of a renowned banking family she was surrounded by wealth and privilege from birth And art too lots of art In 1985 she became chair of the London National Gallery's Board of Trustees so it's no surprise that her debut novel is centred in this world It’s the story of a painting and also of the people who covet it As the tale commences we witness a vast collection of art collectors gathering for the sale of the painting a sale that promises to produce a world record price It has recently re surfaced having been ‘lost’ for some time Painted by Jean Antoine Watteau 1684 – 1721 the artist who revitalised the Baroue style it has caused a storm in the art world Everyone wants to own it With such a large cast of characters it's tempting to get completely lost in the lives of this eclectic group My advice is don't bother Some of the characters are uite interesting but most are stereotypical exaggerations of the type of monied individuals you'd expect to be circling around a sale like this Better to focus attention on a small group central to the history of the picture This includes Annie McDee a young lady who buys the picture cheaply at a local junk shop and Rebecca Memling the daughter of an art dealer who is desperately searching for the self same painting Strangely the other character to pay attention to is the painting itself with its ongoing commentary feeding readers with information on its own history and wry observations about its various owners It’s all uite amusing at times but really this whole art world caper flew high over my head With too many references I didn't get too many characters I didn't much care for and a ludicrously carbuncled ending I was thankful when it finally drew to a close It’s also a ridiculously long book for such a slim storyI saw some advertising spiel that suggested it’s the ideal book for anyone who enjoyed The Goldfinch – well take it from me this book is nothing like Donna Tartt’s tour de force It didn't do it for me I'm afraid I am astonished by all those rave reviews because my goodness this is an awful book It reminded me of those Pollock's toy theatres with cardboard figures which you could manipulate across the stage Two dimensional characters and a creaky plot It contains some truly bad writing and some weirdly inaccurate details that a good editor might have dealt with For example Delia settled down to watch a daily show Pointless It started at 5 pm and at 450 exactly with everything 'just so' Delia turned the television on to see Alexander Armstrong's beaming face does that make any sense? Does it matter? A good writer could sketch Delia in a few deft sentences without any of that detail But maybe Xander was promised a name check by the authorThe best thing one might say about the book is that it is apparently meticulously researched stuffed full of detail about art and the art world I read to the end because the weather was hot and I was too lazy to do anything else And then I read about the author a big beast in the art world so I can only assume that this is a rather feeble satire which will be appreciated in that milieu as an in joke There are some great books about paintings Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch Ali Smith's brilliant How To Be Both Michael Frayn's Headlong Iain Pears' The Portrait all wonderfully written with fully fleshed characters and intriguing plots Do read them This is not an easy book to review since I have very mixed feelings about it It is a fast moving thrillerrom comsatire of the art world that centres on a lost painting by Watteau also called The Improbability of Love and its tangled history This is combined with the story of the woman who buys it in a junk shop and her new life as a chef specialising in themed events for the artistic establishment Some of the chapters are narrated by the painting which is a convenient omniscient device that enables the history to be explored in detail For me although the book is very readable and Rothschild is very knowledgable about art and the artistic establishment it tries to cover too many populist bases and this lets it down in particular much of the language is cliched and the characters especially the minor ones are one dimensional caricatures The best parts are those that talk about the art itself and the whole thing retains a certain charm Wanted An editor to transform an excellent premise into a good novel Your taskLeave the Prologue mostly untouched; it's a good beginning setting the stage and stimulating the reader's curiosity A record breaking auction with multiple competing interests foreshadows that drama suspense and intrigue will be coming as the story unfolds There's sure to be some unethical behavior and double dealing There's sure to be a send up of the wealthy and their foibles But then the editor should go to work on the rest of the novel Consider the followingCut some characters or at least concentrate the focus on just a few eliminating unnecessary back stories and irrelevant details There's a lot here and though the author does a good job of helping the reader keep all the people straight nevertheless in this case less is Make the tone and writing style consistent Is this book a mystery a love story a satire an art history lesson an exposition on dysfunctional families a cooking tutorial or a put down of the wealthy? Some of these stylisitc elements can be combined in a single novel but they need to be intertwined not turned on and off like a series of light switches For instance the Prologue is presented as a drama sprinkled with some gentle tongue in cheek barbs; that contrasts with the concluding chapter listing whatever happened to the characters a conclusion that sounds like Saturday Night Live riffs and one linersReconsider using the painting as an occasional narrator; it's a clever device but the talking painting soon becomes annoying especially the overly cute references to moi The history lessons told by the painting could be presented in other waysFix the conclusion The reader waits almost 400 pages to attend the auction introduced in the Prologue and then no auction just a sterile newspaper account of what happened The reader deserves so cut some of the interior digressions and focus attention on the dramatic endingSo there's lots of work here for an editor but there's one area that perhaps can't be fixed The central love story doesn't make much sense Yes love is improbable but for Annie and Jesse it seems close to impossible Why Jesse immediately falls for Annie is hard to comprehend especially when she shows no affection in fact shows no interest in him and exhibits little warmth or charm But suddenly the book shifts from cooking show to cheap paperback romance and their relationship blossoms Example Can you pass the asparagus? Annie asked Carefully Jesse passed the uncooked spears to her Placing them on the table his hand accidentally brushed against hers and they both felt a tiny current pass between themJesse was caught up in his own fantasy and tasting the sauce to test for seasoning he imagined running his tongue down between Annie's breasts towards her legsOn further thought this book doesn't need an editor It needs a re write This is a book that cannot fail to entrance a reader Hannah Mary Rothschild is a truly gifted writer who can weave vibrant worlds artfully The novel moves effortlessly between the past and present Art is clearly a passion for the author and you cannot help but get hooked into the story It begins with Annie a chef having suffered heartbreak buying a painting at a junk shop for her new boyfriend However it does not work out and so it belongs to AnnieYou know what? The painting talks to us about its previous owners and its glorious past In the present day there are numerous parties that would like to get their hands on the painting including some unsavoury types We get a real insight into the world of art With a sprinkling of love and lashings of satire the book is impeccably plotted I loved loved loved the novel Many thanks to Bloomsbury for a copy of the book via netgalley ‘I was painted to celebrate the wild cascades of love the rollicking bucking breaking and transformative passion that inevitably gave way to miserable constricting overbearing disappointment’ With occasional chapters narrated from the perspective of the painting – as is the one above this perspective shares the history of both the painter Watteau and his fame this painting by Antoine Watteau named The Improbability of Love was ’the painting that started a movement the rococo’ As this story begins this painting is up for auction but uickly changes to share the story of how it came to be there and the months – and years – that precede this day that has the entire art world on the edge of their collective seats When Annie enters a junk shop she’s passed by many times before She’s on her way home to prepare a meal for her date a man she’s only recently met through some dubious dating service offering a tune up on her love life and hopes to find something to give him as a gift something to encourage him to share his hopefully mutual feelings about her She can barely afford to live but has a bit of spare cash on her and finds a somewhat dirty small painting – a man gazing adoringly at a woman Haggling to bring the price down she finally wears the only person working there to let her have it at a bargain price When her date doesn’t even show or call any beauty she might have seen in this painting is now tainted by the humiliation she feels for being so hopeful and so wrong Fortunately Annie has another love and one that won’t desert her food Not just eating it though she loves to cook and is hired a temporary position as a chef for the Winklemans who own Winkleman Fine Art In the meantime behind the scenes others are working in the background trying to locate for the purpose of “retrieving” this painting worth far than Annie paid for it The level of bumbling idiocy in these behind the scenes criminal activity falls a bit short of being worthy of Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello but it keeps the story flowing while the history of how much art stolen by the Nazis during WWII was hidden some discovered maybe in the to be discovered future Jesse a young painter that Annie meets while visiting the museum becomes intrigued by the painting Annie still has and is determined to help her solve the mystery of who painted the art she purchased with the spare cash in her pocket He sees the brilliance the genius of the artist who is responsible for this painting and wants to help her establish its provenance This story is less about the painting than it is about Annie her desire her need to be seen really seen as she is and not as her alcoholic and disparaging mother views her or any of the others who can’t look past what she may lack in appearance and see what who she really is and the promise she holds Her need to be recognized as worthy of recognition and love like anyone else But this isn’t a harleuin kind of love story there’s little sunshine lollipops or roses and if there is romance it’s shyly hiding and biding its time showing its face now and then But remember it’s the improbability of love that establishes its value Many thanks once again to the Public Library system and the many Librarians that manage organize and keep it running for the loan of this book After 4 years of living in Japan I am still perpetually gobsmacked by the idiotic assumptions westerners make about Japanese people One of the key moments in this novel where our heroine meets the love interest occurs at an art museum During this meet cute a group of Japanese tourists in a British museum are presented as befuddled foreigners unfamiliar with a reference to the Mona Lisa “Mona Lisa?” one lady uestioned The guide clapped his hand to his forehead “I’m sorry What a dolt You probably haven’t been to Paris It’s a painting in the Louvre By Leonardo da Vinci” The guide looked back at Annie slightly desperatelyAre you fucking kidding me Hannah Rothschild?First of all I don’t believe one needs to physically travel to the Louvre in Paris to be familiar with Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait seeing as it’s been acclaimed as “the best known the most visited the most written about the most sung about the most parodied art work in the world” John Lichfield If you live on this planet there’s a good chance you are familiar with the piece My first exposure to it was on an episode of Muppet Babies for god’s sake But if you are a Japanese tourist in an art museum across the world it is pretty damn improbable see what I did there that you would draw a blank seeing as how particularly famous the Mona Lisa is in this countryHere is a uote I pulled from a 16 year old article written about Japan’s love affair with the painting “Ask any Japanese person what the most famous painting in the world is and chances are they will say the Mona Lisa by the sixteenth century master Leonardo da Vinci 1452 1519 Though La Gioconda the woman in the painting has captivated people worldwide throughout the ages with her inscrutable smile the Japanese seem to have a particularly deep affection for her”“Miura of the University of Tokyo calls the Mona Lisa one of the Western paintings most admired by the Japanese since the Meiji era and Japan's romantic feelings for the Mona Lisa never seem to fade” the original painting came to Japan in 1974 151 million visitors came to see the exhibition – a record that had not been broken as of the printing of that articleSo why would our author believe that Japanese people wouldn’t have a clue about this painting? And why does her character then also assume that they wouldn’t have been to Paris? We’re talking about a group of people that had just come on a hellishly long flight to look at art in Europe Are Japanese people dimwitted uncultured and uninformed about art history? Are they so isolated they couldn’t possibly get references that the whole damn world understands? Ugh Oh and then there’s an unbearably bullshit scene in which a librarian at the British Museum is sweet talked into giving up patron records Um no again Ms Rothschild Patron privacy is one of the tenets of our profession one that reuires us to obtain a master’s degree – so on the whole we tend to be fairly 'with it' intellectually speaking A group of librarians in my home country once refused to give up patron records to the government during a Patriot Act fueled counterterrorism investigation So no “one phone call and a fantastical excuse” wouldn’t convince me to hand over a customer’s name and phone number to an anonymous weirdoIt just amazes me that our author managed to insult both the Japanese and librarians in the same sprawling unfocused anticlimactic novel Besides all that the story was crammed with too many characters and not enough plot It made for a tedious read It’s took me almost 4 months to plod through it Delightful and satirical The Improbability of Love takes us deep into London's art world Annie McDee a young chef buys a painting at a junk shop as a birthday present for a guy who never shows up for the romantic dinner she has prepared Her mother thinks the painting resembles one of the Old Masters so they lug it to a museum for a comparison Could it be a lost 18th Century painting by Antoine Watteau called The Improbability of Love?There is a powerful art dealer with a dark past who is searching for this painting Various people who want to possess it are introduced a London auctioneer art specialists and the flamboyant rich and famous collectors The painting itself is a character who tells the tale of its provenance My history is strewn with sex and love and lust and even a dead body or two231 Filled with self importance the painting looks back on its history It was painted for a special woman owned by both royalty and commoners and stolen during warsThe story makes the reader reflect on the true value of art Is it the monetary value that it brings at an auction the prestige of owning a famous work or the way we are moved emotionally and spiritually when gazing at an artwork?Author Hannah Rothschild is the chair of the National Gallery in London and she navigates through the art world with expertise The book was filled with art mystery romance moral choices and satirical humor Some of my favorite parts were chef Annie's lavish thematic dinners based on recipes from previous centuries The characters were interesting ranging from ordinary folks to the over the top colorful wealthy collectors It might bother some people that there were so many characters and sub plots and it still would have been an entertaining story if it was edited down a bit