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The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
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The Very Picture of You

by Isabel Wolff

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Ella is a successful artist who is able to get below the surface with her clients to paint portraits that illuminate who each person really is -- from the politician with a secret to to the beautiful eighty-year-old with a hidden sadness to her sister's annoying American fiance. As she talks to and develops an understanding of each of them, she learns even more about herself. But she longs to know more about the father who abandoned her years ago, and her mother is always evasive when Ella asks questions. This is a quietly moving story of secrets from the past and how they effect the present. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
Ella Saville is a successful portrait painter who, at the age of thirty-five, already has a distinguished track record, portraying the great and the good, as well as "normal" people who wish to have themselves, or members of their family, immortalized in oil. Ella paints the portraits of memorable characters-from a womanizing marqess to a beautiful eighty-year-old but it's three portraits that will change her life forever. First, there is her future brother-in-law: boorish, boring, American. Over six sittings Ella realizes that she is very capable of loving the wrong man, but also capable of loving the right one. Next, there is a posthumous portrait of a cyclist, a young girl who teaches Ella through painting that life is meant to be lived to its fullest. Finally, there is the secret portrait Ella has been working on for years, one of a person who has had the most profound influence on Ella's life, and whose absence is the most keenly felt. In vibrant prose, with humor and grace, Wolff paints a captivating portrait of Ella, a deeply human masterpiece.
  AhalyaLiteraryAngels | Dec 22, 2013 |
‘The Very Picture of You’ was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Random House Publishing Group .

Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

‘I felt like Tantalus, neck-deep in water that he could never drink, grasping at fruit that was always just out of reach.’

Storyline
Ella is an extremely successful portrait artist who has just been asked by her sister Chloe to do a portrait of her future brother-in-law, Nate, whom she despises. Early on in Nate and Chloe’s relationship, Ella overheard Nate speaking to someone and it appeared that he was not having an honest relationship with Chloe and that forever changed her opinion of him. After only their first sitting where she begins Nate’s portrait, her feelings have drastically changed towards him and Ella doesn’t know how to stop them, even if she wanted to.

Ella is also dealing with recent revelations regarding the father who left her and her mother when Ella was only five years old. Her mother always told her how he abandoned them after she caught him with another woman and that he made the decision to leave his family in order to be with her. Ella never had a reason to doubt her mother but when she discovers that may not be an accurate accounting of what actually happened she is more confused than ever.

Thoughts
This was a very interesting read and I enjoyed it immensely. Once the story began to unfold I had an idea of how it would all unveil; however, Isabel Wolff wrapped up all of the loose ends fabulously. I feared that it would be your ‘typical’ type of ending but I was left completely satisfied. I loved the details of Ella’s painting sessions: the particulars of the colors she uses, how she mixes them and the steps she takes to create the portrait of the person she’s painting.

‘Then came the moment when I put in the very last thing I ever add to a portrait – the light in the eyes. That’s when I feel like Pygmalion, having life breathed into his statue; because it’s that little flick of white in each pupil that finally – ping! – brings a portrait alive.’

I also enjoyed the closeness she develops with the people she paints and the stories she learns about them and how it’s woven into the story. It reminded me quite a lot of Isabel Wolff’s other novel that I’ve read, A Vintage Affair, and how the main character becomes immersed in one of her customer’s lives. (Also a fabulous read)

There were parts of this novel that I had a hard time liking at first, primarily the feelings that Ella develops for her sister’s fiancée. Strangely unfitting and not exactly understandable… her infatuation with him occurred a bit too quickly for it to be plausible in my opinion. Fortunately though, it was well written and by the end I was mollified with the outcome.

I also had difficulty liking her mother who was a major character in the story. Despite her tale of what had happened between her and Ella’s father, the fact that she withheld so much information for so long and even after she told it there still seemed to be something missing and I believed her to still be lying throughout the entire story. It’s hard to really care for a character if you feel that they are being deceitful. I loved the side-story of Grace and Mike that was the part of the story that touched me the most.

This is now the second book I’ve read by Isabel Wolff and it certainly won’t be the last. ( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 7, 2013 |
2,5 étoiles, en fait.
Bien mais sans être fascinant non plus. J'ai davantage aimé les relations entre le peintre et ses modèles que l'histoire d'amour, qui n'a pas fait battre mon petit coeur. Malgré tout, on évite la dégoulinade et les apitoiements sur soi-même, ce qu n'est pas pour me déplaire.

Billet plus complet à venir sur le blog. ( )
  Moncoinlecture | Apr 4, 2013 |
Sweet book, but very predictable. I like her other work, A Vintage Affair much better! ( )
  dragonflydee1 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Wolffprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Björkhem, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
Are we to paint what's on the face, what's inside the face, or what's behind it? - Pablo Picasso
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"Ella...? El-la?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Ella Saville is a successful portrait painter who, at the age of thirty-five, already has a distinguished track record, portraying the great and the good, as well as "normal" people who wish to have themselves, or members of their family, immortalized in oil. Ella paints the portraits of memorable characters-from a womanizing marqess to a beautiful eighty-year-old but it's three portraits that will change her life forever. First, there is her future brother-in-law: boorish, boring, American. Over six sittings Ella realizes that she is very capable of loving the wrong man, but also capable of loving the right one. Next, there is a posthumous portrait of a cyclist, a young girl who teaches Ella through painting that life is meant to be lived to its fullest. Finally, there is the secret portrait Ella has been working on for years, one of a person who has had the most profound influence on Ella's life, and whose absence is the most keenly felt. In vibrant prose, with humor and grace, Wolff paints a captivating portrait of Ella, a deeply human masterpiece. (ARC)
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Distinguishing herself as an evocative portrait painter in London, Ella Saville completes three life-changing works that reveal the secrets of her own life.

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