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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 successful portrait artist in London. She can capture the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalize it on canvas. This gift has earned Ella commissions from royals and regular folks alike.But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait.From session to session, Ella begins to see Nate in a different light, which gives rise to conflicted feelings. In fact, through the various people she paints—an elderly client reflecting on her life, another woman dreading the prospect of turning forty, a young cyclist (from a photograph) who met a tragic end—Ella realizes that there is so much more to a person’s life than what is seen on the surface, a notion made even clearer when an unexpected email arrives from the other side of the world. And as her portraits of Nate and the others progress, they begin to reveal less about their subjects than the artist herself.A picture is worth a thousand words, and in Isabel Wolff’s vibrant and textured story, these words are brilliantly crafted to convey the humor, mystery, and beauty that exists within each of us.
Published: Romance At Random an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
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    Sweet book, but very predictable. I like her other work, A Vintage Affair much better!more
    Don't let the first chapter put you off. The author must have had a day of poor writing, but the rest of the book was very enjoyable.more
    A much better story than I was expecting and I really enjoyed it! The characters were well developed and I especially connected with main character. I primarily read southern literature and fiction but I loved the fact that this book was set it England. Nice, easy, chic lit read.more
    This book tell the story of Ella, a potrait painter who have a talent to paint a person and reveal a quality that the sitter, themselves may not know. Ella, who have been abandoned by her own biological father, found it especially hard to handle when her father send an email to contact her after more than 30 years. She know about the abandonment and she cant bring herself to meet up with him eventhough she really want to know about him. At the same time, she found herself to be attracted to her sister's fiance, Nate whom she thought was two timing her sister. It is not helping her when she have to endured the two hourly sitting to draw the potrait of Nate on her sister' request. There are also some sub story plot which tell the story of Ella's sitters when each of them revealed their story during their session with Ella. These stories have make the book very interesting to read.There are quite a number of characters in the book ranging from Ella's immediate family, the sitters and their friends and relatives. And among those characters, i really dislikes Ella's mother, Sue the most. At first reading the story about Ella's abandonment, one may feel sorry for her as she is the victim yet, as the story developed, Sue's character become more manipulative and demanding to such extent that i couldnt stand her anymore.Although this is the first book i read about the author, i really like the way the story was written. Although there are subplots, quite a few actually, but the way it was told, did not make the reader confused and it does not overlapping each other.more
    This was a mildly interesting story about a painter discovering family secrets while falling for her sister's fiance . I agree with other readers that delving into the other clients' stories and keeping the family drama minimal would've made for a stronger novel . But this was well written and I will look for other books by the author .more
    This is the second book by Isabel Wolff I’ve read. The first was A Vintage Affair which I absolutely loved. I was so happy to find I loved this one just as much.I’ve never really thought about having my portrait painted but after having read this it sounds like something I’d like to do. I always thought it must be a dull, tedious, drawn out affair. Now, I see it can be an enlightening experience and very interesting. Well, that it if every painter is like Ella. She is such a lovely character. The way in which she gets to know her “sitters” is on par to a psychiatrist. I never thought before of there being a difference about whether a portrait was from life or a photo but now it makes perfect sense. Ella won’t paint a portrait from a picture (though she does break her rule for a very good reason). Now, I want to pay attention and see if I can tell the difference.I wasn’t sure what I felt about the love story until the very end and then a was very happy with the way everything turned out. Even if it was a little “easy” I was still very satisfied. I have to say was surprised by Ella’s mother’s back story. I can see now that it was all there in front of me and I just didn’t notice it. I was probably blinded by my soap opera idea of what the story was and therefore missed a lot of the clues.All the characters were nicely fleshed out and the author has a such a wonderful ability to tell a deep and interesting life story of her older characters. When I heard Iris, one of Ella’s sitters, history I couldn’t help but think of the story of the little blue coat in A Vintage Affair. It was that story that really made me love that book.I’m happy to say Isabel Wolff has seven other novels still left for me to read and I can’t wait to get to them. I have nothing but high hopes.Thank you to Random House for my copy of The Very Picture of You.more
    I loved this book. I had not read one of her books since Minty Malone! I am going to look up some of her other titles that I missed. This was well written, had likeable characters and a great story. Just the right amount of descriptiveness.more
    I had so enjoyed A Vintage Affair; I was quite pleased to read The Very Picture of You by the same author. And I was not disappointed.I found the descriptions about portraiture simply fascinating. I’ve never read anything about painting someone’s portrait and I think the author did a great job. The back stories about the people getting their portrait done were so interesting. If I had a complaint (which I really don’t), I wish there could have been more.The characters were fully developed and quite believable. The setting in modern day London was fascinating too as that’s some place I’ve always wanted to visit. I saw the romance coming a mile away—for some that would be a turnoff, but not for me. I enjoyed the journey immensely. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story.more
    Just because you know where you're going, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride along the way. The Very Picture of You is a predictable love story, enlivened by a most interesting look at the art of portrait painting. The author shines when discussing the difference between a likeness and a picture with a soul, and how an artist gets there. Set in contemporary London, location and characters are nicely done and believable. Bottom line: This is a sweet story about secrets and forgiveness, sisterly love, romance and art.more
    Perfectly pleasant read. Completely predictable but over all not too bad. Based on this book I don't know that I would read anything else by this author.more
    Ella Saville is a portrait painter with a troubled past. Abandoned by her father thirty years earlier, Ella has never stopped thinking about him. Having built a career as a portrait painter, Ella maintains a secret portrait of her father. But Ella's life is about to get even more complicated. Her sister is about to get married, Ella finds herself in love with a man she absolutely cannot have, her absent father tries to make contact, and several of her portrait clients are clearly troubled. The result is several interwoven stories all of which focus, in one way or another, on Ella's portrait painting. This was a fairly easy and quick read, but I don't think it is one of Wolff's best. The plot was fairly predictable, and I had no trouble guessing how things would end. I didn't like this as well as Wolff's previous book, A Vintage Affair. In fact, several characters from A Vintage Affair make surprise appearances here (and wouldn't you know it, Ella's sister has her heart set on a vintage wedding gown.) Some of the book's sub-plots remain woefully underdeveloped, particularly that involving Grace, a biker who dies in a traffic accident. This book is more like a romance novel than chick lit, which is what I expect from Wolff. The ultimate objective of the book seemed to be to pair everyone up at the end.more
    In many ways the perfect book at the perfect time. Before reading it I had a stream of very mediocre reads and some were just so plodding I was really craving a book I could just tear through.This book is engaging. I read it really fast. I felt myself reaching for it over and over in the spare minutes I had between this and that.The characters were interesting though not particularly original. The story took a few surprising turns that were welcome to me. I actually spent quite a bit of time in the first half of the book mentally complaining about the predictability of the characters and the plot only to have the author sort of pull the rug out from under me a bit. They weren't the best or most well incorporated twists I have ever read. I will admit that I did feel deliberately mislead to a degree. That aside, on balance - I think I preferred the slight offense at being mislead over what could have been an incredibly predictable plot.I would definitely recommend this book for a plane ride or a vacation or for any time that you want something that is just easy to read. A nice quick engaging read.more
    This book was well written for what it is. I suppose it's simply not my type of book. I would prefer more humor, I suppose, with such light subject matter. The author does provide good insight into modern portraiture, which I found very interesting. But generally, I found the main character to be interesting only when she was talking about her art. Otherwise, she was annoyingly dim and judgmental at times, and often seemed much older (in a bad way) than her 35 years. She seemed a bit dowdy and prematurely middle aged.more
    Contrary to the previous reviews, I loved this book. I loved the fact that Ella is an engaging character and I could not put this book down. I read it in one day I loved it that much. I loved the little twists and the main storyline and how there were some surprises thrown in the mix as well. I really enjoyed learning about portraiture and painting. I found the relationships in this novel to be very convincing and it painted a portrayal of real life situations (no pun intended). Over all a light, quick and engaging masterpiece by Isabel Wolff.more
    I'm only a chapter or two into this book, but needed to get my Early Reviewer review in before November comes to an end. So far, I am enjoying it. Ella has just started to paint Iris and Iris has started relating an interesting story to Ella. I would say this definitely seems like my kind of book, although reading the other reviews here, it seems I may be disappointed at the end. I shall see. I will update this review when I finish the book.more
    I was not expecting much out of this book. I read a blurb online about it, and it was going to be a romance.It was a slow couple of chapters at the beginning. I liked the idea of the main character being a portrait painter, but did she have to speak as if she was reading aloud from Wikipedia? Nobody talks like that, in huge paragraphs of informational text. It got better as I went along. The mysteries of the story were pretty clear from the start, but I was surprised to find that I liked the romance. Overall, I’ll say that I liked this book for what it was. I’d anticipated literary fiction and it fell short of that, but it was a nice relaxing read.more
    I'm a big fan of Isabel Wolff, and I was a little disappointed with the this book. Ella, an English portrait painter, is an up and coming artist. Although Ella is perceptive and capable of identifying issues of her 'sitters', I found it somewhat unbelievable that Ella could not do the same in her own life. The ending was very predictable, but unrealistic. Overall, it's a quick, easy read.more
    The main character of this book is Ella, who paints portraits for a living. She gets to know each sitter in depth and the book revolves around each of their stories. For someone who is so intuitive when it comes to her sitters though, she is surprisingly blind to what is happening within her own life. Although a bit predictable, the characters and the story itself is enjoyable and makes for a pleasant read. No surprising twists and nowhere near as enjoyable as A Vintage Affair, but still worth the read.more
    Ella is a painter of portraits and is not happy when she is commissioned by her sister Chloe to paint Chloe's fiance, Nate, whom Ella loathes. Nate is aware of Ella's feelings and so confronts her during the first sitting. It turns out to have been a misunderstanding on Ella's part and now she finds herself very much enjoying Nate's company during there sittings. Need I say more? Do you see where this is going? Everything about this book was so predictable. Her long-lost father contacts her and Ella does not want to see him based on what she has heard from her mother. Yet it takes the whole book for Ella to discover her mother's lies even though they are so obvious. A person who sees her mom's portrait at the beginning of the book states that she looks like she is hiding something. Her mother was a caricature of a character and it made it very annoying.The worst for me was the annoying habit of one or two words being italicized in every sentence of dialogue. The over EMPHASIS on EVERYTHING made me want to THROW this book across the ROOM. Annoying isn't it. The editor should be fired.I think this book bothers me so much because it could have been decent. It is interesting that Ella learns so much from her subjects as they sit together for hours at a time. And many of them have interesting stories to tell but it gets lost in the unnecessary family drama and predictable plot.more
    This story of a portrait painter working on three portraits that ultimately change her life had all the ingredients of a great read but unfortunately never really came together. Though Ella was a sympathetic character, she was also woefully incapable of seeing things that were right before her eyes. As a reader, I was frustrated that the twists that so shocked Ella were things I had figured out ages before. I also thought that the plot devices of visits and stories from clients were too similar to that of Wolff's enjoyable A Vintage Affair. Given how much I loved A Vintage Affair, I really wanted to like this book but my overall impression after finishing was "meh". Because there were no real surprises, it was hard to share Ella's sense of surprise at every turn. It was also hard to believe Ella was able to see deeply into her clients in order to paint their portraits given her general inability to see the truth about those close to her. 3.5 stars.more
    Read all 23 reviews

    Reviews

    Sweet book, but very predictable. I like her other work, A Vintage Affair much better!more
    Don't let the first chapter put you off. The author must have had a day of poor writing, but the rest of the book was very enjoyable.more
    A much better story than I was expecting and I really enjoyed it! The characters were well developed and I especially connected with main character. I primarily read southern literature and fiction but I loved the fact that this book was set it England. Nice, easy, chic lit read.more
    This book tell the story of Ella, a potrait painter who have a talent to paint a person and reveal a quality that the sitter, themselves may not know. Ella, who have been abandoned by her own biological father, found it especially hard to handle when her father send an email to contact her after more than 30 years. She know about the abandonment and she cant bring herself to meet up with him eventhough she really want to know about him. At the same time, she found herself to be attracted to her sister's fiance, Nate whom she thought was two timing her sister. It is not helping her when she have to endured the two hourly sitting to draw the potrait of Nate on her sister' request. There are also some sub story plot which tell the story of Ella's sitters when each of them revealed their story during their session with Ella. These stories have make the book very interesting to read.There are quite a number of characters in the book ranging from Ella's immediate family, the sitters and their friends and relatives. And among those characters, i really dislikes Ella's mother, Sue the most. At first reading the story about Ella's abandonment, one may feel sorry for her as she is the victim yet, as the story developed, Sue's character become more manipulative and demanding to such extent that i couldnt stand her anymore.Although this is the first book i read about the author, i really like the way the story was written. Although there are subplots, quite a few actually, but the way it was told, did not make the reader confused and it does not overlapping each other.more
    This was a mildly interesting story about a painter discovering family secrets while falling for her sister's fiance . I agree with other readers that delving into the other clients' stories and keeping the family drama minimal would've made for a stronger novel . But this was well written and I will look for other books by the author .more
    This is the second book by Isabel Wolff I’ve read. The first was A Vintage Affair which I absolutely loved. I was so happy to find I loved this one just as much.I’ve never really thought about having my portrait painted but after having read this it sounds like something I’d like to do. I always thought it must be a dull, tedious, drawn out affair. Now, I see it can be an enlightening experience and very interesting. Well, that it if every painter is like Ella. She is such a lovely character. The way in which she gets to know her “sitters” is on par to a psychiatrist. I never thought before of there being a difference about whether a portrait was from life or a photo but now it makes perfect sense. Ella won’t paint a portrait from a picture (though she does break her rule for a very good reason). Now, I want to pay attention and see if I can tell the difference.I wasn’t sure what I felt about the love story until the very end and then a was very happy with the way everything turned out. Even if it was a little “easy” I was still very satisfied. I have to say was surprised by Ella’s mother’s back story. I can see now that it was all there in front of me and I just didn’t notice it. I was probably blinded by my soap opera idea of what the story was and therefore missed a lot of the clues.All the characters were nicely fleshed out and the author has a such a wonderful ability to tell a deep and interesting life story of her older characters. When I heard Iris, one of Ella’s sitters, history I couldn’t help but think of the story of the little blue coat in A Vintage Affair. It was that story that really made me love that book.I’m happy to say Isabel Wolff has seven other novels still left for me to read and I can’t wait to get to them. I have nothing but high hopes.Thank you to Random House for my copy of The Very Picture of You.more
    I loved this book. I had not read one of her books since Minty Malone! I am going to look up some of her other titles that I missed. This was well written, had likeable characters and a great story. Just the right amount of descriptiveness.more
    I had so enjoyed A Vintage Affair; I was quite pleased to read The Very Picture of You by the same author. And I was not disappointed.I found the descriptions about portraiture simply fascinating. I’ve never read anything about painting someone’s portrait and I think the author did a great job. The back stories about the people getting their portrait done were so interesting. If I had a complaint (which I really don’t), I wish there could have been more.The characters were fully developed and quite believable. The setting in modern day London was fascinating too as that’s some place I’ve always wanted to visit. I saw the romance coming a mile away—for some that would be a turnoff, but not for me. I enjoyed the journey immensely. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story.more
    Just because you know where you're going, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride along the way. The Very Picture of You is a predictable love story, enlivened by a most interesting look at the art of portrait painting. The author shines when discussing the difference between a likeness and a picture with a soul, and how an artist gets there. Set in contemporary London, location and characters are nicely done and believable. Bottom line: This is a sweet story about secrets and forgiveness, sisterly love, romance and art.more
    Perfectly pleasant read. Completely predictable but over all not too bad. Based on this book I don't know that I would read anything else by this author.more
    Ella Saville is a portrait painter with a troubled past. Abandoned by her father thirty years earlier, Ella has never stopped thinking about him. Having built a career as a portrait painter, Ella maintains a secret portrait of her father. But Ella's life is about to get even more complicated. Her sister is about to get married, Ella finds herself in love with a man she absolutely cannot have, her absent father tries to make contact, and several of her portrait clients are clearly troubled. The result is several interwoven stories all of which focus, in one way or another, on Ella's portrait painting. This was a fairly easy and quick read, but I don't think it is one of Wolff's best. The plot was fairly predictable, and I had no trouble guessing how things would end. I didn't like this as well as Wolff's previous book, A Vintage Affair. In fact, several characters from A Vintage Affair make surprise appearances here (and wouldn't you know it, Ella's sister has her heart set on a vintage wedding gown.) Some of the book's sub-plots remain woefully underdeveloped, particularly that involving Grace, a biker who dies in a traffic accident. This book is more like a romance novel than chick lit, which is what I expect from Wolff. The ultimate objective of the book seemed to be to pair everyone up at the end.more
    In many ways the perfect book at the perfect time. Before reading it I had a stream of very mediocre reads and some were just so plodding I was really craving a book I could just tear through.This book is engaging. I read it really fast. I felt myself reaching for it over and over in the spare minutes I had between this and that.The characters were interesting though not particularly original. The story took a few surprising turns that were welcome to me. I actually spent quite a bit of time in the first half of the book mentally complaining about the predictability of the characters and the plot only to have the author sort of pull the rug out from under me a bit. They weren't the best or most well incorporated twists I have ever read. I will admit that I did feel deliberately mislead to a degree. That aside, on balance - I think I preferred the slight offense at being mislead over what could have been an incredibly predictable plot.I would definitely recommend this book for a plane ride or a vacation or for any time that you want something that is just easy to read. A nice quick engaging read.more
    This book was well written for what it is. I suppose it's simply not my type of book. I would prefer more humor, I suppose, with such light subject matter. The author does provide good insight into modern portraiture, which I found very interesting. But generally, I found the main character to be interesting only when she was talking about her art. Otherwise, she was annoyingly dim and judgmental at times, and often seemed much older (in a bad way) than her 35 years. She seemed a bit dowdy and prematurely middle aged.more
    Contrary to the previous reviews, I loved this book. I loved the fact that Ella is an engaging character and I could not put this book down. I read it in one day I loved it that much. I loved the little twists and the main storyline and how there were some surprises thrown in the mix as well. I really enjoyed learning about portraiture and painting. I found the relationships in this novel to be very convincing and it painted a portrayal of real life situations (no pun intended). Over all a light, quick and engaging masterpiece by Isabel Wolff.more
    I'm only a chapter or two into this book, but needed to get my Early Reviewer review in before November comes to an end. So far, I am enjoying it. Ella has just started to paint Iris and Iris has started relating an interesting story to Ella. I would say this definitely seems like my kind of book, although reading the other reviews here, it seems I may be disappointed at the end. I shall see. I will update this review when I finish the book.more
    I was not expecting much out of this book. I read a blurb online about it, and it was going to be a romance.It was a slow couple of chapters at the beginning. I liked the idea of the main character being a portrait painter, but did she have to speak as if she was reading aloud from Wikipedia? Nobody talks like that, in huge paragraphs of informational text. It got better as I went along. The mysteries of the story were pretty clear from the start, but I was surprised to find that I liked the romance. Overall, I’ll say that I liked this book for what it was. I’d anticipated literary fiction and it fell short of that, but it was a nice relaxing read.more
    I'm a big fan of Isabel Wolff, and I was a little disappointed with the this book. Ella, an English portrait painter, is an up and coming artist. Although Ella is perceptive and capable of identifying issues of her 'sitters', I found it somewhat unbelievable that Ella could not do the same in her own life. The ending was very predictable, but unrealistic. Overall, it's a quick, easy read.more
    The main character of this book is Ella, who paints portraits for a living. She gets to know each sitter in depth and the book revolves around each of their stories. For someone who is so intuitive when it comes to her sitters though, she is surprisingly blind to what is happening within her own life. Although a bit predictable, the characters and the story itself is enjoyable and makes for a pleasant read. No surprising twists and nowhere near as enjoyable as A Vintage Affair, but still worth the read.more
    Ella is a painter of portraits and is not happy when she is commissioned by her sister Chloe to paint Chloe's fiance, Nate, whom Ella loathes. Nate is aware of Ella's feelings and so confronts her during the first sitting. It turns out to have been a misunderstanding on Ella's part and now she finds herself very much enjoying Nate's company during there sittings. Need I say more? Do you see where this is going? Everything about this book was so predictable. Her long-lost father contacts her and Ella does not want to see him based on what she has heard from her mother. Yet it takes the whole book for Ella to discover her mother's lies even though they are so obvious. A person who sees her mom's portrait at the beginning of the book states that she looks like she is hiding something. Her mother was a caricature of a character and it made it very annoying.The worst for me was the annoying habit of one or two words being italicized in every sentence of dialogue. The over EMPHASIS on EVERYTHING made me want to THROW this book across the ROOM. Annoying isn't it. The editor should be fired.I think this book bothers me so much because it could have been decent. It is interesting that Ella learns so much from her subjects as they sit together for hours at a time. And many of them have interesting stories to tell but it gets lost in the unnecessary family drama and predictable plot.more
    This story of a portrait painter working on three portraits that ultimately change her life had all the ingredients of a great read but unfortunately never really came together. Though Ella was a sympathetic character, she was also woefully incapable of seeing things that were right before her eyes. As a reader, I was frustrated that the twists that so shocked Ella were things I had figured out ages before. I also thought that the plot devices of visits and stories from clients were too similar to that of Wolff's enjoyable A Vintage Affair. Given how much I loved A Vintage Affair, I really wanted to like this book but my overall impression after finishing was "meh". Because there were no real surprises, it was hard to share Ella's sense of surprise at every turn. It was also hard to believe Ella was able to see deeply into her clients in order to paint their portraits given her general inability to see the truth about those close to her. 3.5 stars.more
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