Waterstone’s April recommended fiction book was The Improbality Of Love by Hannah Rothschild.
My first thought was, I’m not sure about this months choice!
It’s a book about love and the possession of a painting. Annie, the main character, has given up on the possibility of fulfilling her dreams and opening herself up to falling in love again, following the disintegration of a long term relationship.
How wrong was I? Hannah Rothchild’s novel recently shortlisted for the Bailys Women’s prize for fiction 2016, deserves all the praise it has received. It is a clever, funny, emotional read and I adored it.
The best part for me, was the use of the painting, the aptly named The Improbaility of Love as a narrator in some of the chapters. This simple narrative choice charmed me and made me realise the book, was something special.
The main characters are all lost and damaged by past events, while the painting being hundreds of years old and having had many owners, is disillusioned by his current circumstances when the book opens. The humans are stuck in lives they feel trapped by, closed down to love or looking for the right person to fall in love with, while the painting is languishing in a rundown junk shop. Found by Annie, as a gift for an inappropriate man she is desperate to keep, both she and the painting become caught up in the shady realms of the art world. This simple act of buying a painting changes everything for Annie and the people she comes into contact with. Because the painting is a lost masterpiece and many people want it. There are Russian exiles, rich lonely widows, pop stars, impoverished nobility, vengeful former employees and many others.
Rothschild gives us a tale about what we will do for love, its cost and asks what price are we willing to pay for the objects and people we love. Would we kill? Would we sacrifice who we are for others? I was impressed by how well drawn the characters are, even the minor characters are given enough reason to be interested in the painting. Annie is the main character, the heroine, but she also acts as a conduit around which the other characters and the story flow. The painting without doubt was my favourite character, but they all fitted well together and the author drew all the threads of her tale to a well crafted ending.
Having once again enjoyed the fiction selection for the month, I’m excited to see what the clever people at Waterstones will choose for May. I have so far enjoyed each of their very their very individual choices and am left wondering if this will continue? Is it the first of May yet?