Review for Girl Reading: A Novel

This was great - reminded me a bit of Tracey Chevalier or Susan Vreeland in taking a painting or idea of one from history and presenting the back story of it (even though here, they are imagined paintings), but the end was very different, a bit David Mitchell-y both in idea and structure. Which isn't to say the book is precisely like any of those things. Each story is based around a girl or woman reading a book - either the subject of a painting or photograph, etc - but none of the stories is only or necessarily mainly about those things either. The stories span a wide range of time periods, from medieval times to the near future and the women (and other characters) featured are diverse and varied, though consistently well-drawn. Only two criticisms to keep it from being a five-star for me - I felt the unifying last chapter lacked just a little something - something both difficult to put my finger on and difficult to discuss without spoilers! And, I felt that some of the subtle implications about the stories were a little too subtle and left me wondering too much just what I was supposed to conclude. I did feel, however, that unlike some clever novels, it didn't come across as trying too hard to be clever, which is frankly, a bit of a relief, as so many clever novels do...
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