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The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,786 ratings  ·  263 reviews
A stunning new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford

London, 1958. It's the eve of the sexual revolution, but in Juliet Montague's conservative Jewish community where only men can divorce women, she ­finds herself a living widow, invisible. Ever since her husband disappeared seven years ago, Juliet has been a hardworking single mother of
Paperback, 339 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Plume (first published August 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  1,786 ratings  ·  263 reviews

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Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Juliet is a woman who rebels against the Jewish community that she was born into. Left to bring up two children on her own when her feckless husband leaves for work as usual one morning but never returns, she becomes involved in the London art society of the 1950's/60's.

She was labelled an agunah ( a woman chained to a marriage after the husband disappears, and yet is not divorced). She is shunned by her community because of her lifestyle, something that brings shame on her family, but not Juli
Liza Wiemer
I have a lot of mixed up emotions about this book. It addresses a serious issue: What happens to a Jewish woman when her husband disappears and she's unable to get a religious divorce. She's in limbo, a married woman without a husband with no chance to remarry again until he's found alive and is willing to give her the divorce. (If he's found dead, she can be declared a widow.) Until then, she is an aguna.

It's incredibly painful and disturbing to read how powerless Juliet Montague is after her
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book for many reasons. It was not terribly written but it lacked passion and atmosphere. I felt that my eyes were having to climb across each page with great effort.
It begins in the 1960s but there is no real feel of the sixties conveyed. We are introduced to Juliet who is saving up for a fridge and her children who want a TV but really that seems to be the authors only attempt to demonstrate that the story is not set in the present. It could be set in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 9
Melanie Coombes
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book takes place in 1960s London. Juliet Montague is a mother of two who lives in a very conservative Jewish community. Her husband disappeared one day and since then, Juliet has felt she has also become invisible to those around her. Only men can divorce their Jewish wives at that time, so Juliet is unable to marry again and lives a sort of half life until she comes across a young artist who paints her portrait.
This becomes just one a series of portraits of Juliet painted throughout her li
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this book was a slow mover and didn't really get myself into it and couldn't really get into the characters as well ...more
Maggie Anton
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Sorry, but you can get the plot in another review; this is my opinion. The story was compelling enough to keep me reading to the end, but I didn't connect with most of the characters - and especially the main character. The disconnect was almost immediate when I saw that the heroine's name was Juliet Montague but nobody ever made a joke, or even mentioned, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I never understood what she was feeling or why she made the decisions she did. Indeed, I found some of the se ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Not sure the cover art does the book any favors - this is a book mostly about a woman rebelling against her traditional community in favor of art. Juliet is one of those people who sees things: blues are really blue, ugly stands out, and if you show her a bare wall she can tell you what art you should put there. One of the defining moments of her life came when she was young and an artist painted her portrait in exchange for her father repairing his glasses.

She's also in an impossible situation:
P.D.R. Lindsay
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. I really like the writing style and tone which Natasha Solomons uses. She has a way of making words dance.

This story is about a very conventionally raised Jewish wife who breaks free and becomes a much respected Gallery owner in the art world of the 1960s. That sounds like a predictable plot. No way!
On Juliet Montague's thirtieth birthday she sets off to buy a 'fridge, something she has painfully saved up for. Her husband walked out one day and never returned, she has struggled to rais
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
The year was 1958, and Juliet Montague was turning thirty. She'd planned to be sensible, to go out and bring home the new refrigerator that she had been saving hard to buy. But Juliet had always had an eye for art, and on the way to the shops she spotted a young artist, Charlie, at work. She asked to buy the painting; he wouldn't sell it, but he offered to paint Juliet instead. A much better present!

It wasn't the first time that Juliet's portrait was painted. The first time had been when she was
An excellent novel about a Jewish-English woman from quite a traditional background in the late 1950's, who creates her own path in the world by using her talent to appreciate and discover painting talent

While the novel starts in 1958 when Juliet Montague (born Greene in a Jewish village near London, where everyone was descended from Jewish immigrants from Polish villages at the turn of the century, so everyone knew everyone and the traditions were strong and far from the sophistication of the m
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chose to read this book because the title intrigued me and the the truth behind the title is an interesting glimpse into the history of the Jewish people. I never realized the limbo that Jewish women whose husbands had vanished found themselves in. This novel allows us to follow Juliet Montague who rebels against the strictures imposed upon her when she finds herself in this position. She finds herself in the art world of 1960s London and as the years progress she has her portrait painted by sco ...more
Alison Smith
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I seldom award 5 stars, but the book gets my wholehearted 5 stars. I devoured it in one sitting, again, something I seldom do.

It’s a rich story, dealing with the world of conservative Jewish tradition, with the vibrant London art world set as counterpoint. To read entire review go to
Kelly Z
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I didn't feel connected to any of the characters and never felt drawn into the story. ...more
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was very disappointing in the end. I did not like the main character at all. She comes across as a total narcissist (Who has over 6 self-portraits of themselves lining their walls?). Her parenting skills were terrible and I really disliked her boyfriend Max....weak, so very weak.
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is set in England over many years and the main character of the story is a woman called Juliet Montague. Juliet is a mother and wife although her husband has now vanished and has left her in an uncertain position and surrounded by her tightly knit Jewish community. I felt incredibly sorry for Juliet, she is trying to get through a difficult time with people talking behind her back as she tries to raise and protect her children and yet not lose herself amongst everything that is happen ...more
I thought this book started off well but after a while I found it dragged rather. The beginning is quirky and I had high hopes of it but the rest of the book to me didn't live up to its initial promise. Juliet's husband has disappeared. Because of this she is something of an outcast in her Jewish community.

Going out to buy herself a birthday present, she intends to buy a fridge, she is diverted by a young artist selling his wares on the street and decides to commission a portrait of herself inst
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a bit of a jump in the dark; I got it out of the library because I liked the cover...

Julie is 30 and impulsively gets a portrait of herself painted for her birthday instead of spending the money on a fridge. This action opens up a new life for her and her two children.

The story covers an era and situations I know absolutely nothing about: the 60s London art scene and what it's like to be a Jewish woman whose husband has disappeared. Now I know a tiny bit more. Because Juliet's husb
Patty Mccormick
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was impressed with the thought that went into this novel. The title is great and the use of portrait titles and the artist for each chapter is ingenious. We follow the life of Juliet and the painting of her portrait by each of the painters throughout the book. Each section represents a different period in her life. We are shown how Juliet is tortured between being a good jewish widow and being herself. She wants to please her mother, but at the same time yearns to break free from the old tradi ...more
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, favorites
Juliet lives in a conservative Jewish community in England in the late 1950's. She has two young children and a husband who has left her, becoming an object of pity to her parents' friends . But a chance encounter with an artist changes her life forever, freeing her from her from her restrictive traditions. Her world becomes that of artists and art, seeing life in a whole new way.
I really like Solomon's writing and all of her books I have read so far. She has a way of telling a story, with some
PopcornReads - MkNoah
Book Review & Giveaway: The book cover for The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by bestselling author Natasha Solomons drew me like flies to honey. I had to know who this mysterious woman was! Reading the publisher’s brief description clinched it; I had to read this novel. This is the story of a woman who wanted the world to see her for who she was instead of who they thought she should be. This novel may be set in the mid-20th century but its message is still quite pertinent in today’s world. Read ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This has been the best book I have read in a while.The story has many layers, but the one I love is about the relationship between artists and those who 'see' their work - really see beyond the canvas, using intelligence and a rarely found perception which lies at the edge of consciousness: it can't be explained or rationalized, but it does propel the life of the main character Juliet.
Natasha Solomons is a gifted writer - so many times I could not resist reading aloud a paragraph to Rob - just t
Ksenia Chernyshova
The book could've been so much better with a few more revisions and better editing. And a thicker plot. It had the potential but didn't deliver. A story about a Jewish society! -- yet the author seems to think being Jewish is super boring, and there's no love for the culture. A story about the sixties! -- yet there's no atmosphere of the sixties. A love story between a woman releasing her closeted sexuality and a hermit artist! -- seriously, how could that turn out so lame? ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: liked
The novel is about Juliet, a Jewish woman whose husband left her and their children. Her husband disappeared without divorce and this fact fixed Juliet's fate. Fortunately, inspite of it she had an interesting life because she could find her happiness in her job. She led a gallery in London and she found her company, people who accepted her with her status.
I really liked it.
Annette Geiss
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Juliet is a woman to be admired. She is a woman who was dealt lemons and made lemonade! Who doesn't admire someone, who when the going gets tough, plows ahead and reinvents oneself? Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own happiness. ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Just ok. I enjoyed the character, the art, and the family, both the Jewish and the art community. But it moved slow for me. The story of the vanished husband was an unexpected surprise. The portraits a nice touch.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting and well written but not particularly compelling though I was motivated to finish it just to find out if the vanished husband ever reappears.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book should appeal to Anglophiles and those who enjoy art. I have read other books by this author, and they have been a pleasure.
Ruth P
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful ,glorious sweeping tale that immersed me from page 1. The writing was so beautiful ,poignant but with strength and a subtle humour.I know I truly love a book when I imagine it as a film and cast all the characters....but keeping these to myself until my sisters have read it then we can plan who plays who over a bottle of gin.Wonderful cover also...not the one that came up on scanning but the fabulous green dress and gloves.
Very well done Ms Solomons.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A story with many faces that leaves you feeling heavy. A great deep read into a world unfamiliar to most of us. Loved the main character, how she's all badass and does her own thing. Great read. ...more
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Natasha Solomons is a writer and the New York Times bestselling author of The Gallery of Vanished Husbands, The House at Tyneford, and Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English. She lives in Dorset England, with her husband, the writer David Solomons, and their two young children. Song of Hartgrove Hall is her fourth novel.

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“The map of a face expresses things from which geography might learn.
patrick Hayman, A Painter's Notes 1959”
“God was in the pictures. I looked and looked and never mind how closely I studied them, I couldn’t see God lurking among the trees or peeking out from behind a pillar. I loved the pictures for themselves. The truth is, I don’t need God any more, but I do need art.” 0 likes
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