After a recent dry patch in the world of reading, I finally picked up a book again. Using the shortlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, I picked up ‘The Improbability of Love’ by Hannah Rothschild and it took me way longer than it should have to read it but I just finished it and I am looking forward to reviewing it.
First of all, they say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ so I am going to address the cover because really… Truth be known, I picked The Improbability of Love up thinking it was a chick lit, a super quick read that would get me back into the swing of things and add a quick and easy tally to my GoodReads challenge. It was not that at all. The cover is red because the author and the (sort of) main protagonist is a woman so the sexism ruins the branding of this book immediately and does it great injustice.
The Improbability of Love is about art, one painting in particular and the intricate lives of upper class London art dealers and art hobbyists, with the resounding satirical message of the absurdity of the worth we place on things. It has everything: complex characters, humour, detailed description, London at its core and I learned about art, artists, art history, the second world war and what happened to art and possessions during it.
It truly is a great piece of work that would appeal– and should be read by, a great array of people and the book cover just does not convey that at all. Don’t be fooled, first of all, and just know what you’re getting yourself into.
Annie is rather underwhelming for a (somewhat) protagonist but her naivety is endearing in a Bridget Jones kind of way. The book regularly changes perspective where even the painting itself, called ‘The Improbability of Love’ if you hadn’t gathered already, gets to speak which is really interesting, kind of different and always entertaining.
At first I did not warm to the painting since he moaned a lot about being handed around to various masters, lords, kings, ladies and mistresses, yet, since the book throws us into the lives of many different people, I definitely began to sympathise with him and could totally relate to him which– whether intentional or not, was really really clever!
In short, this book is the story of one important painting, once sought after and admired, comes to the present world unappreciated and unrecognised until the previous owner realises it is what it is and has come back around and threatens to uncover huge truths that could ruin many people.
It’s quick, it’s funny, it’s informative, it’s different, it’s wonderful. This is a book for the art lovers, the lovers of the city, the gallery goers, the history nerds and anyone interested in a good time.
Though it did not win the Bailey’s prize, it more than earned its place in the shortlist and I really hope that lots of people pick up this book DESPITE the feminine (literally) red-herring of a cover because so many people would enjoy it.
As always, you can get my reading updates first on my goodreads page here.