The Improbability of Love
By: Hannah Rothschild
Published Year: 2015
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
What I thought
The Improbability of Love is about a long lost painting that is discovered by an average woman in a junk shop. No one knows that this painting is valuable as it is covered in dirt and grime and has been missing for so long no one believes that it could be real. The book is told across a multitude of perspectives, including the painting itself.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m not very into art and therefore don’t know much about it, but I just could not get into this book. I typically enjoy books that are told from multiple perceptions, but this one did not work for me. I felt like there were too many characters and story lines and only two of them ended up developed.
If each perspective had been fleshed out and written as its own story, I think those individual books would’ve been interesting. However, I feel as though Rothschild took on too much at once. The beginning of the story sets the stage at the auction with brief introductions of a handful of characters looking to bid on the painting. I was immediately curious to learn more about those characters and was excited to see how they would all intertwine. However, many of those characters we heard from once, in a brief chapter, and never heard from again. It made me wonder why we were even introduced to them in the first place.
In addition to that, there were way too many characters to keep track of and as a result, I felt as though random bit of information were thrown into part of the story to “surprise” the reader, but instead made me feel like I was trying to be tricked or confused.
The beginning of the story is very slow in the set up. I didn’t find myself interested in the book until about halfway through, and then by the last 50 pages I was bored again. I got so frustrated by the end of the book that I even skipped a few pages to get to the last two chapters. Maybe the problem here was more the editor than the author. So much of this book could’ve been cut out without affecting any of the story, but for some reason it was left in. In the end, this book was just not my cup of tea.
What Book Club Thought
Apparently this book wasn’t anyone’s cup of tea. Only half of us finished the book, so there wasn’t a mass amount of discussion. We all agreed that the summary for this book was a bit of a bait and switch and were a bit disappointed. There were mixed feelings on the painting having a voice, although we all agreed that we enjoyed the information that it presented. Unfortunately, because none of us enjoyed the book, I don’t have much to share that I didn’t express above.
Next Book Club
My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan By: Seth Rudetsky
Book Club Date: June 2nd 2016
The Improbability of Love