The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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Wickedly funny, this totally engaging, richly observed first novel by Hannah Rothschild is a tour de force. Its sweeping narrative and cast of wildly colorful characters takes you behind the scenes of a London auction house, into the secret operations of a powerful art dealer, to a flamboyant eighteenth-century-style dinner party, and into a modest living room in Berlin, among many other unexpected settings.

In The Improbability of Love we meet Annie McDee, thirty-one, who is working as a chef for two rather sinister art dealers. Recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, she is searching in a neglected secondhand shop for a birthday present for her unsuitable new lover. Hidden behind a rubber plant on top of a file cabinet, a grimy painting catches her eye. After spending her meager savings on the picture, Annie prepares an elaborate birthday dinner for two, only to be stood up.

The painting becomes hers, and as it turns out, Annie has stumbled across a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French painters of the eighteenth century. But who painted this masterpiece is not clear at first. Soon Annie finds herself pursued by interested parties who would do anything to possess her picture. For a gloomy, exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious sheikha, a desperate auctioneer, and an unscrupulous dealer, among others, the painting embodies their greatest hopes and fears. In her search for the painting's identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history--as well as the possibility of falling in love again.

Irreverent, witty, bittersweet, The Improbability of Love draws an unforgettable portrait of the London art scene, but it is also an exuberant and unexpected journey through life's highs and lows and the complexities of love and loss.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
ISBN: 9781101874141
1101874147
Characteristics: 407 pages ;,25 cm.

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Surprises, plot twists, bizarre characters, a painting that tells us it's own history - what's not to like. I had to read the amazing dinner scenes twice! Highly recommended. Topical, historical, character driven. Ending was not expected, but workable.

Rose in PR

k
KatG1983
Jan 27, 2017

At times incredibly beautiful writing, compelling characters and evocative imagery ... and at other times I found myself skimming through certain chapters. This book could have done with a strict editor to streamline the plot and get rid of a few superfluous characters. But, I did enjoy it and found some of the chapters (particularly those written from the painting's POV) to be very moving.

bookishdl Dec 12, 2016

Art, cooking and love are blended together with history in a book that serves up a sensational sensory experience. I could clearly imagine the painter painting and smell the food cooking. A clever novel that is highlighted by the painting declaring its thinking by soliloquy throughout the novel. I also learned a great deal about the art world and the machinations of that arena. Highly entertaining and enjoyable.

e
EmilyEm
Nov 20, 2016

Broken-hearted Annie McDee, new to London, aspires to be a chef and kind heartedly buys a painting as a gift for a new friend’s birthday. When she’s stood up and tries to return the painting, her life takes an unexpected turn.

What a hoot. Rothchild has written a delightful satire of the art world, full of characters to cheer and boo. Annie’s cooking adventures are pure pleasure. Lots of twists and turns in this artful mystery. For fans of art lost and found, the Amber Room even makes an appearance.

ser_library Oct 09, 2016

I loved the prologue but after a few chapters I skimmed the book. The blurb compares it with Evelyn Waugh who would have written a much shorter book with fewer and more complex characters. For art themed mysteries try Iain Pears.

u
uncommonreader
Sep 07, 2016

This is a satire about the London art world, characterized by greed, deceit and philistinism. The novel is peopled with caricatures. Although the book is easy to read and contains some interesting reflections about art, it is a little long and the ending is simply silly.

Chapel_Hill_MeeghanR Jun 26, 2016

Many, many characters, a few, brief historical tidbits, and some interesting musings about the power of art. A pretty quick read and a peak into what likely is a foreign world to most of us. A pleasant diversion with a highly improbable plot and cast.

m
mblummichaels
Jun 19, 2016

an absolutely wonderful book.
It got me interested in a painter who i had previously pooh-poohed!

b
bluehydrangea
Jun 02, 2016

A leading character is a talking painting & I thought that was going to be a deal-breaker, but I'm glad I stuck with this story... It’s an unusual combination of romance, mystery, satire, history of food and art, and if you can handle the talking painting (its 'personality' is a bit annoying), it's a good read.

k
kw55555
May 29, 2016

The first 3/4 of this book is very good, then it falls apart due to the author's lazy use of well-worn tropes and absolute impossibilities. Memling would have been investigated decades before this book takes place. His looks vs. his claimed heritage would have been questioned. His daughter would not have gotten off scott-free.... etc. Read it if you're completely willing to suspend all belief, but don't be surprised if you're still thinking about the anomalies for days afterwards.

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