Jena Henry's Reviews > A Right Royal Face-Off: A Georgian Comedy Featuring Thomas Gainsborough and Another Painter

A Right Royal Face-Off by Simon Edge
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it was amazing

Now that I’m done chuckling and smiling, and I’ve come to the end of this terrific story, It’s time to post my review. I have thought of two possible beginnings:
“This is the book that you didn’t know you wanted to read…but trust me, you’ll love it!”; or
“Just when you think there are no more original plot-lines for a book, along comes this one!”

Pick whichever opening sentence you want, and we’ll get on with the review for this book, which is about Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds and, of course, painting. As an American, I remember these names from a long ago college art history survey class, but at least that prepared me for “Jeopardy”. “Who painted The Blue Boy?”

Author Simon Edge’s book brings Tom Gainsborough to life as a likable chap. He reminded me of Phil on “Modern Family”, or any other hapless TV sit-com dad, trying his best to take care of his bossy, chaotic family. Mr. Gainsborough is a successful portrait painter, although he is number 2 to Sir Reynolds, the President of the Royal Academy of Art. Part of the story involves his ongoing feud with his rival- if only they had had Twitter back then.

Not only did they not have social media, they didn’t have phones, or even cameras. So, in lieu of selfies, rich people had to sit for their portraits, many of which were life-size paintings. (Back then, art exhibits were the Instagram of the times.) Our good friend Tom was no artistic dreamer following his muse. He was a practical businessman, churning out commissioned portraits as fast as he could. He was truly talented, in a lyrical way and one of his best gigs was painting portraits of the large royal family of King George III (“Who was King during the American War?”)

In addition to Mr. Gainsborough’s daily life and painting challenges-so interesting how he set up his landscape paintings and the day the piglets came is so funny- we are also treated to revealing letters written by the Gainsborough footman to his mother, which ties in to a hilarious modern day story line about a sketchy new TV show about antiques, “Britain’s Got Treasures.” Art history and provenance are exciting! The modern day characters including Muriel Mudge are well drawn and are just as appealing as the historic figures, giving readers a charmingly hilarious story. Which gives me one more question for “Jeopardy”- “What is the best humorous historical fiction book?” Highly recommend.
Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and the publisher for a review copy. This is my honest review.
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Reading Progress

June 6, 2019 – Started Reading
June 6, 2019 – Shelved
June 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

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