Title: The Very Picture of You
Author: Isabel Wolff
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ella Graham is a portrait painter, and at thirty five years old, she is starting to think she will never settle down and find happiness. When her younger sister, Chloe, asks Ella to paint a portrait of Nate, her fiancé, Ella isn’t pleased. After all, painting a portrait of someone is an intimate experience, and she has a few reasons to really dislike Nate. But as Ella gets to know Nate through their sessions, she begins to understand what Chloe see in him and fears she may be getting too attached to her sister’s fiancé.
The Very Picture of You is an interesting novel dealing with the painting of portraits, which is the most appealing aspect of the book. Ella takes the reader through the process of painting a portrait, of how she tries to capture not only the physical appearance of the person, but their soul as well. She has multiple clients in this novel, and it’s wonderful to experience their stories and innermost thoughts as Ella paints them.
Ella is a complicated character, and as a result, she isn’t necessarily the most likeable person. Her personal journey is very predictable in this book – almost from the beginning, readers know that she will fall for Nate. It’s a difficult plotline because it’s so hard to sympathize with, especially with the way it happens with Ella. It’s almost hard to believe how quickly she falls for him, and it’s a bit distasteful. Additionally, Ella discusses at length how she keeps the secrets her clients relate to her during their sittings because such an intimate experience lends itself to confessions of sorts. However, it really bothered me how Ella was volunteering information that Nate shared with her left and right, seemingly in a bid to one up those around her on how much she knew about Nate. I had a lot of trouble with Ella during this novel and it hampered my enjoyment of the book.
The subplot with Ella’s mom is a very interesting one, and I found myself wishing that this was the main storyline of The Very Picture of You. From the beginning, it’s clear that something strange is going on with regards to Ella’s mom and her biological father. The pieces fall together early on for the reader, but it takes Ella a long time to realize what really happened. This part of the novel was well done, though again, it was predictable.
Overall, The Very Picture of You was an enjoyable novel if you’re interested in portraiture or are looking for a light, easy read that will still make you think. Much of the novel is easy to guess at, and while that does take something away from the experience of reading it, it’s still worth picking up if the plot intrigues you. I enjoyed Wolff’s previous novel A Vintage Affair and will be looking forward to her next book.