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The Very Picture of You

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,543 ratings  ·  348 reviews
Where the eye sees the brushstroke, the heart sees the truth.
From Isabel Wolff, the internationally bestselling author of A Vintage Affair, comes a beguiling novel about artistic inspirations, family secrets, and the courage to turn one’s life into a masterpiece.
At thirty-five, Gabriella Graham—“Ella” to her family and friends—has already made a name for herself as a
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Bantam (first published 2011)
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3.70  · 
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 ·  2,543 ratings  ·  348 reviews

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Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
‘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.’

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
I had read Isabel Wolff's A VINTAGE AFFAIR and was quite taken by it, hence my excitement when THE VERY PICTURE OF YOU was offered. I must say that I was disappointed in the story. It was so predictable, and in a few instances downright vapid, that it failed to hold my interest.

While I will admit there was more than enough information about the preparation of canvas for a portrait and the myriad of colors artists use to achieve a look in the eyes, a particular skin tone, etc. those particular d
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read this wonderfully colorful story, I couldn't help thinking of the saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words." We learn Ella's story, as well as those of her family, friends, and the people she she paints them. In each sitting, Ella, the portrait artist, elicits the stories of her subjects. And as she gradually portrays them, we learn bits and pieces of her story as she interacts with them and reflects on her life.

At thirty-five, Ella Graham has a big hole in her heart...a
Nikki Wilde
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
liked this story. I finished in one day. The only disappointing thing for me is that sometimes you read a story and it stays with you for days and you keep thinking about it and going back over it and for me, this story was not like that. Don't get me wrong, it was good but just not one that I'm recapping in my head.

I loved the side stories that went with each character. Particularly, Iris. I loved her story and I couldn't wait to hear the entire thing. This novel was easy to predict. There was
Craftnut -
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is rare that I give a book 5 stars, but this one deserved it. The story is well developed, and richly characterized. Although I could guess the big secret quite easily, I understood why the main character, Ella, didn't see what was right in front of her. We often have blinders on when it comes to people we love, our parents particularly, and believe the narrative that they want us to believe when we are children. Those beliefs follow us well into adulthood and are difficult to change. So it i ...more
Mimi 'Pans' Herondale
Very interesting and a fun read.


But almost every story had something to do with someone cheating on someone else and it got so repetitive and confusing!
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 wa ...more
Mark Soone
I am flirting with the idea of 5 stars, but cannot decide! I won this book on goodreads (Thanks Ania), and had never heard of Isabel Wolff and did not really know what to excpect. The inside flap of the book was slightly different than the write up on good reads and my excpectations going into this declined and were not real high. Combine that with the fact that this is not my normal genre...and I still don't know exactly what genre lable to place upon this book.

This story is heart breaking and
Kim Nash
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the story of Ella, a portrait artist whose reputation is growing through painting some very high profile people as well as some sitters that she thought would be normal but that told some extremely interesting, emotional and heart warming stories. When her mother cajoles her into giving away a portrait for a charity auction prize, she is devastated when her sister Chloe pays for her to her paint her fiancé Nate who she really dislikes due to a conversation she has overheard him having w ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
The thing I love and/or hate about Wolff is that her novels are always lauded as "Summer Beach Reads"... well, I disagree... for the most part. I think they are much more in depth, & insightful than the "picture" (ha) that phrase elicits. In this one, I was impressed by the amount of research that had to be done to understand the world of a portrait artist. To be completely honest, I went to The National Portrait Gallery only a week before reading this, & I really wish I had waited... be ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ella paints portraits of other people. She spends hours staring at someone’s face, trying to capture not just their looks but a bit of what makes them who they are. She never paints herself though because if she did, the abandonment by her father might show up as part of whom she is. See, Ella has never really gotten over that and when the estranged father contacts her, she can’t see any choice but to refuse to see him.

When she is commissioned to paint her sister’s fiancé and two other people,
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Isabel is a fantastic storyweaver. What I picked up thinking it would be a good book turned out to be a page turner. Complete with characters so well developed they feel real and utterly fascinating. Ella is an artist that paints people. She has a rule though, only in real life. She doesn't do any paintings from pictures or post humous -- However Ella will find out a lot about herself and others around her very quickly.

Ella's mother told her when she was 11 that her father abandoned them for ano
Pippa Franks
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Isabel's books and this one in no exception. The thing I admire most in her work is the character development, not just in the main character but in the supporting ones too.
In this book everybody has their own story to tell and secrets to be shared. I'm not going to reveal much of the plot, but for me, the premise didn't disappoint. As the story unfolds, often through portraits created by Ella, we are led through a web of deceit, betrayal and intrigue. Family ties are put to the test and
May 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Too predictable for me!
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Very poorly developed story.
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I won this as a goodreads give-away and admit I did not pick it up right away, maybe because the cover of the uncorrected proof is so bland, I'm not sure. But the old adage stands, don't judge a book by it's cover, because I throughly enjoyed this book. I found compelled to keep reading as i wanted to know the stories of Ella, her family and those of whom she painted their portraits. Sitting for a portrait is such an intimate relationship in which Ella was able to examine the souls of those she ...more
Book-shelf Shelf
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've given up looking at a book n thinking 'hmmmm not sure it my thing'... as i do that so much and then am captivated by the story so much that i end up only talking about that book for ages. This has happened with this book, the story of Ella painting portraits is one on its own, but then the sitters storys come into it, along with Ella's mom. Each story is unique but tied to that person so firmly and told so well. I loved every page of this book and can usually see the out come by half way th ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-own
I was a bit disappointed with this book because I had loved A Vintage Affair so much and I had high expectations for her next novel. It was a quick, light read and I generally liked the story and characters. The main character being a portrait artist was the most interesting part and I can definitely applaud the author for giving her female main characters really unique careers. Although this wasn't my favorite book, I would still recommend this if the story looks interesting to you and you're l ...more
Dale Harcombe
Probably three and a half stars. i enjoyed this story of Ella the portrait painter. Liked the detail about painting and getting to know her subjects as she painted them and their histories. And yes, there's a romantic interest as well as the mystery about Ella's father who diappeared from the scene when she was a child. One thing that did annoy me was characters who often started sentences with 'Erm.'
This is a great book and one that hooked me right from the start and one that i could definitely read again. I really enjoyed reading about the different characters who were totally believable, and the family secrets that had been hidden for decades. I also really enjoyed the whole setting of painting portraits and reading about how that works. I can't wait to read Isabel Wolff's next book and hope I don't have to wait too long for it.
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Very breezy, predictable novel about a woman learning about not just the secrets of her own past but that everyone around her has secrets. The details about painting make this stand out more than the usual romance, but I really disliked the idea that the main character could hook up with her sister's ex-fiance with absolutely no bad blood between them. Not to mention the ickiness factor of sleeping with a man who had sex with your sister.
Joanne Donato
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book because there were many plot twists. The author kept me interested in the story line , which doesn't always happen while reading a book. This was the second book I read by Isabel Wolff.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
I got through about 20 pages and said, "enough of this!" I thought I wanted something 'light' but this was not worth spending time on.
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Slow start, a few typos. Darn spell check! Couldn't stop reading at the end, great story!
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: __ebook, _english
IW is one of the few writers whose books I actually seek out to read. This one was a delight to read too. The same humble heroine who learns how to be loved...
However, all those details on how to actually paint really drove me nuts sometimes. I also couldn't really care for the sitters and reading those parts were boring, just lacked tension. This book could have done with a better editor, who points out how to place information in the text to make it more tense. For example right in the beginn
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Ella paints portraits for a living. She is commissioned to paint a portrait of her sister's fiancé, a man that she doesn't like due to an overheard conversation when they just met. But then she starts to fall for him.

The descriptions of the portraits and the people she is painting are the real beauty in this book. In fact, I wish there at been more. The other part of the book--the familial relationships and the crush--would have been just fine if there had been more artwork, in my opinion. All i
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I picked this up because I had enjoyed another book by the same author, A Vintage Affair. The Very Picture of You was not as engaging, but used a similar story construct. The main character, Ella, is a portrait painter. She learns a great deal about her subjects through the intimacy of painting their portraits. The "twist" about her parents was quite evident from early on in the story, but it was still an enjoyable read.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
Ella Graham is a portrait artist in London, England. Along with the various subjects Ella is currently painting, her sister, Chloe, requests that Ella paint a portrait of Chloe's fiance, Nate, who Ella is not too fond of, due to a conversation she overheard of Nate on his cell phone. Things are not what they seem with any of Ella's subjects, however, and this book gradually unfolds with revealed secrets and surprises, one of which involves Ella & Chloe's own mother.
Laura De Jesús Asjana
I enjoyed this book, loved the art and the bonds the main character developed with each of the models and their stories. Loved the conclusion with her portraits, was like a full circle moment. But i deeply missed more ella and nate time.
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Isabel Wolff's ten bestselling novels are published worldwide. 'Ghostwritten', set in present day Cornwall and on wartime Java, was published in the UK in March 2014 and will be published in the US in February 2015 as 'Shadows Over Paradise'. 'The Very Picture of You' was published in the UK and the US in October 2011. 'A Vintage Affair', was an 'Best of 2009' title and was shortliste ...more