The Improbability of Love is Hannah Rothschild's debut novel.
The Improbability of Love is actually a painting - although the title can be applied to many of the relationships in the book. Annie's fourteen year relationship has ended, she is a talented chef, but works for two sketchy art dealers, her mother is a life long alcoholic and her attempts to find friends - and love - have fallen flat. When she comes upon a dusty little painting in a junk shop, she just likes the way it looks. She has no idea that it's a lost masterpiece. But others who spy her with it are aware.....the cast of art collectors, art dealers and art thieves is large and eclectic.
Rothschild has a keen eye and wit, skewering the art world with tongue firmly in cheek. I suspect insider knowledge has much to do with this - Rothschild is Chair of the Trustees of the National Gallery - UK.
Her character are all richly drawn and fleshed out. The art aficionados were by turns evil, funny and desperate. (Some readers may find this cast too large) It's impossible not to fall in love with Annie and hope that she does indeed find happiness and love again. But the character I enjoyed the most came out of left field - the painting itself has a sardonic voice - and memories. Through those recollections we learn the provenance of the picture and the details of the man who painted it.
Annie is a talented chef, using food as her empty canvas. Rothschild's description of Annie's meals and their inspiration mirror her evocative descriptions of the paintings and art history used throughout the book. Both were equally fascinating for me.
Clever, very clever, is the first description that springs to mind in describing this book. Those looking for a literary art novel with a distinctly satiric tone mixed with history, romance, dodgy dealings and more, will enjoy The Improbability of Love. Read an excerpt.