Leah's Reviews > The Very Picture of You

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
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Sep 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: for-review, books-read-2011, favorites
Read on August 25, 2011

I love Isabel Wolff, she is one of my favourite Chick Lit authors and there’s only two of her novels I haven’t read. The rest are all wonderful reads, with her last novel A Vintage Affair being a particular favourite. I was extremely pleased to see Isabel was back in 2011 with a new novel called The Very Picture of You and I couldn’t wait to read it and I nearly died when I received a copy to review. I did wonder if the novel would be as good as A Vintage Affair, because, seriously, that book was something so, so special, but I’m pleased to say that The Very Picture of You was amazing. Even better than A Vintage Affair, something I didn’t think I’d say!

The Very Picture of You is a novel with many layers. On the surface, it’s the tale of Ella Graham, who spends most of her time getting to know other people’s lives via the medium of portrait painting. But Ella’s life isn’t as easy as she thought it was, as her father left when she was only a small girl, so when he gets back in touch, she isn’t necessarily sure it’s something she wants to do – after all, he upped and left her and her mother… Didn’t he? I absolutely adored The Very Picture of You. It’s easily one of my favourite books this year. I liked all the book’s layers, the way there were lots of little stories being told via Ella’s job, the way Ella’s family life wasn’t perfect and she learned a lot about her life as the novel progressed. I was really very fascinated with the book and I could barely put it down.

Another facet of The Very Picture of You is the friendship that develops between Ella and Nate, who is Ella’s sister Chloe’s fiance. Ella hasn’t always liked Nate, after overhearing some unsavoury things when they first met, but when Chloe wins a free portrait it’s Nate she chooses to have painted, so Ella finds herself spending more and more time with Nate, and realises he’s perhaps not as terrible as she first thought he was. I also really loved the stories we learned from Ella’s other ‘sitters’. There’s an MP, Mike Johns, who has a secret confession to, er, confess; Celine, a beautiful French lady approaching the big four-0; and then there’s Iris, who has a painting in her bedroom with a wonderful back-story. I found all of those stories fascinating and they didn’t take away from the main story at all, they were a very worthy part of the novel and it’s like all the different stories were integral to Ella’s life, even if they hadn’t directly affected her in any way.

I absolutely loved Ella. She carries the story beautifully. She’s an excellent main character and I was drawn in from page one. She’s the kind of character you can relate to and I thought her job was so fascinating. She was such a wonderful and warm person, and I was entranced by her story, entranced by her life and her work as a portrait painter. Like I’ve mentioned, I found all of Ella’s sitters to be so fascinating, too. They weren’t particularly big characters in the novel, but their lives and how nice they were did rather stay with me. Ella’s family were a big part of the novel, her mum, her step-dad Roy, her sister, Chloe, and I found them to be such a nice family. They have their ups and downs, some pretty big ups and downs, but the warmth they exuded and the way Roy treated Ella as her own made me feel warm and happy inside. I also really liked Nate, I didn’t expect to – after all, Ella has some reservations about him, but once it was all cleared up, I did really rather like him. Ella’s best friend, Polly, provided a nice rock to Ella and I loved that she was a hand and foot model. I didn’t even know there was such a thing; I didn’t know there were actors/actresses who had hand/feet doubles, it’s creepy.

The Very Picture of You was an amazing story. Isabel Wolff is a natural-born storyteller and I was sad to reach the end of the book because it was just stunning. The pages just flew by so effortlessly, and there was nothing I didn’t like about the book. There were a few niggles with editing (Polly’s daughter, Lara, becomes Lola for the second half of the novel and there are a LOT of words italicised, much more than I’ve ever seen in one novel and not all of them were necessary) but they were easy to bypass. This is an amazing novel, Isabel Wolff just seems to ‘know’ how to write a novel I’ll love. She continually brings out novels I absolutely adore and I’m just so sad I’ve already finished it. I want to read it again. I want to read more of Ella and co. I sincerely hope Isabel is working on a new book – I cannot wait another two years for another Isabel Wolff novel, she should be bringing a book out every year. I thoroughly recommend The Very Picture of You, it is utterly, utterly amazing.
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Reading Progress

08/25/2011 page 128
35.0% "I am loving this book. Isabel Wolff is just an awesome author."
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