Dua's Reviews > The Portrait

The Portrait by Evelyn Chartres
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When I first saw The Portrait online, the premise seemed right up my alley and I was quite intrigued. So much so that I got the author's all three books and decided to read them in publication order.

I had high expectations for this book and while it wasn't terrible, it did frustrate me so much at times. This is a debut novel and it definitely shows.

So let's get the negatives out of the way first.

The prose
I feel like this is one of those cases where the prose is distracting to the point of detracting from the story but maybe that's a "me" issue given that English is not my native language. It was hard for me to go through the prose in this book and immerse myself in the story. Some paragraphs were disjointed from one to the next. Some sentences were weirdly structured and didn't sound natural. The whole thing felt alien at times. There were also purple patches here and there.

Weird word choices
It probably contributed to the aforementioned alienation, because I was constantly checking the dictionary. I mean, why scrumptous instead of delicious? Why stipulated instead of demanded? Then again, this is probably another "me" issue.

The author's apparent love for the word "this"
This author, this writer, this young author, this aspiring writer, this young woman, this investigator, this artist, this apprentice, this virgin nudist, this student, this researcher, this miscreant, this hunter, this creature, this server, this world... The list goes on. The biggest offender is definitely "this author" though. It's used countless times in the book and this reviewer rolled her eyes every time.

There's another reason why some of those above examples annoyed me. Just because the main character is searching something at a given time doesn't mean she’s an investigator, so the usage of "this investigator" feels out of place. There are many examples like that in the book.

So. Many. Questions.
Almost all paragraphs include or end with questions. "Could it be...? Would that mean...? Perhaps it was...?" Well, it was getting on my nerves so much I actually thought about calling it quits. Why did the author choose to write that way? Perhaps this reviewer is simply not used to such a writing style?

Typos and errors
Some words are typed twice. Some words and many apostrophes are missing.

What about the positives?

I wasn't expecting that twist at all and I loved it. There were hints of course, but for some reason I didn't give that idea much weight. I liked the way the author handled the whole thing in the last chapter, which is my favourite part of the book. It was all so subtle, yet captivating. I must admit that it was one of the occasions where the author's prose worked well.

The art, in its many forms, is an important part of the book, almost like a character on its own, and I loved how it was woven throughout the story.

Another thing I noticed is that the author did her homework and seems knowledgeable on a wide range of topics which I believe improved her work.

Oh and Evelyn... I loved Evelyn.

Overall I enjoyed the idea, the story and the setting. My main issue was the prose and I'm definitely going to take a long break before I start her second book.
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Reading Progress

May 27, 2019 – Started Reading
June 8, 2019 – Finished Reading
June 9, 2019 – Shelved
June 9, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction

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