LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016
When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting – a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called ‘The Improbability of Love’. Delving into the painting’s past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.
Review: A deliciously wicked satire … It’s exquisitely written, shimmering with eye-catching detail, whether describing works of art or the dishes on display at an extravagant banquet. Beneath all that, there’s a serious debate about the value we put on things – whether it’s art or relationships – and the prices we’re prepared to pay. A masterpiece Daily Mail Novel of the week … It all adds up to an ingenious meditation on the true value of art – timely indeed at a moment when paintings and sculpture seem to have become just another currency Mail on Sunday Though this novel goes into the darkest of dark places, the overall tone is totally delicious; conspicuous consumption on this scale hasn’t been seen since the Eighties — Kate Saunders The Times Part of the novel’s charm is that its characters, rich or poor, are all a mixture of frailties. Like a Rococo painting, this clever, funny, beguiling and wholly humane romance is a treat worthy of its subject — Amanda Craig Independent This frothy confection works on many levels, combining a touching love story with an exciting whodunit sat in a hazardous, thrilling world. The story unfolds slowly at first, building up the tension until towards the end the chapters shorten and the pace quickens with staccato satire worthy of the pen of Evelyn Waugh. A real crowd pleaser **** Daily Express Hannah Rothschild is finally coming into her own. Soon to be head of the National Gallery, her novel about the art world is bound to be a bestseller — Lynn Barber Sunday Times Her writing shows brain as well as a heart Economist The Improbability of Love is a romp, a joy, and an inspired feast of clever delights. Reading this book is like a raid on a high-end pastry shop – you marvel at the expertise and cunning of the creations, while never wanting the deliciousness to end Elizabeth Gilbert Every page is a joy. It’s funny, sad, profound. The writing dances. It has panache. It’s beautifully structured. It wears its scholarship with a balletic lightness and grace that shadows the Rococo painting at its heart. Its many and varied characters are an exquisite joy. Her range and emotional grasp is wonderful. What more can I say? It’s my Book of the Year already Barbara Trapido Impishly wicked, ruthlessly frank, touchingly percipient and sometimes laugh aloud funny to boot. Hannah Rothschild captures the contradiction between art as money and art as the soul of humanity really well Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Art Critic for The Times Both a satire of the art world and a romance … It’s mischievous, fun and on the money Tatler A timely reflection on art’s true value Observer What a delightful read – a satirical look at the world of art with some love, mystery and comedy thrown in for good measure. There is a darker element to the plot which I won’t spoil here, but it is tempered by a wonderful cast of characters and has the unusual addition of the painting as an occasional narrator. It’s certainly a clever way of weaving the provenance of the painting into the story Radio 2 Book Club Part detective story, part romance, the gripping narrative moves between contemporary London and Nazi Germany, examining along the way the meaning of love and loss, morality and greed, sacrifice and decadence … the central theme of Nazi art theft is deftly handled. An excellent and very funny debut The Lady Absorbing … Rothschild cleverly has the painting itself tell part of the story and beautifully marshals a wealth of historical detail Metro A novel that is so pleasurable I’ve read it twice, and will read it again Glasgow Sunday Herald A bittersweet and highly enjoyable satire Woman & Home If you did not know much about the passion and power behind the doors of the great auction houses and art dealers, you will by the end of this enchanting tale … Part well-crafted mystery, part thriller, part love story, Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love takes its readers on a wonderful journey into a rarefied world usually only experienced by the wealthy few Jewish Chronicle A capacious and fluently knowledgeable tale that excoriates with mischievously satirical intent the viciously competitive world of high-stakes art collecting … Captivating … Rothschild, the first woman to chair London’s National Gallery, is a dazzling omniscient narrator giving voice to an irresistible cast of reprobates and heroes … An opulently detailed, suspensefully plotted, shrewdly witty novel of decadence, crimes ordinary and genocidal, and improbable love Booklist A frolicsome art-world caper … Ms. Rothschild writes with such exuberance and spins such a propulsive yarn … Her erudition – about restoration, authentication, art history in general – comes through on page after page, and it’s one of the incidental pleasures of reading The Improbability of Love, as are her mouthwatering descriptions of the feasts Annie makes New York Times
Prizes: Winner of Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2016. Shortlisted for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
Imprint: Bloomsbury UK
Publication date: 31/03/2016