Saturday, November 26, 2016

"A Portrait of Emily Price" by Katherine Reay

While I've enjoyed Reay's first three books a great deal, especially Dear Mr. Knightley, this book... I loved.

In fact, I loved it so much, I'm having trouble coming up with words to review it.  Maybe it's just that this hit more sweet spots for me -- it has a mixed-culture family, characters proving themselves, and a very helpful heroine.  Her helping doesn't always truly help, but she tries.  And tries.

Emily Price restores damaged art.  Not fine art, usually, not museum artwork, but stuff people have in their house that gets damaged by fires or floods and so on.  While in Atlanta on an assignment, she meets Ben, an Italian chef visiting family there as well.  He spends two weeks wooing her, they get married, they go back to Italy to live with his family, and that's where it gets really good.  The bulk of the book is Emily trying to figure out how to fit in with Ben's family, how to help his various family members with their problems (whether they want her help or not), and most of all, coming to terms with who she is.

I feel like Reay's first four books were well-written, but they lacked an emotional something.  Vulnerability?  Depth?  Punch?  I don't know -- like I said, having trouble with words.  But whatever it is, this book has it and then some.  I didn't get tears in my eyes while reading this book, I had to put the book down several times because I was crying too much to read.  It has taken me basically a week to process the book after finishing it before I could write even this review, and this is not as coherent as I would like.  This book touched me -- not just because I did identify with Emily's need to help, but because Ben's whole family was so, well, real.  I am buying my own copy of this book, it's that special to me.

(Also, I love her analysis of The Taming of the Shrew, which plays a part in this, because it's pretty close to my own.  See page 222 -- I'm not typing the whole thing out, sorry.)

Particularly Good Bits:

If I let myself go, forgot the boundaries, forgot the rules I myself fashioned and imposed, what could happen? (p. 91).

Planning a surprise for no reason other than to bring another person delight was, in fact, romantic (p. 110).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for discussions of unwed pregnancy.

10 comments:

  1. I love this review! It was such a fabulous book and I want to go back to it!

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    1. Thanks, Jamie! I got my copy today, and I'm kind of annoyed that I have books due at the library I need to read, because I'm sorely tempted to reread it.

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  2. I read Dear Mr. Knightly, then the Bennet one and then started the Bronte plot but put it down. I liked them less and less each book I tried, although the decline from the 1st to the second was probably much longer. I may have to try this one though.

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    1. Livia Rachelle, I kind of read them backwards -- I started with The Bronte Plot and liked it pretty well, then read Lizzy & Jane and liked it better, and then read Dear Mr. Knightley and liked it very much indeed. But I think this one is head and shoulders above all of them.

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  3. Any book that inspires such enthusiasm deserves to be read. I will put it on my never ending list.

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    1. Jennifer, I am so very eager to hear what you think of it! I think you might like it a lot.

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  4. I want to read this now!! Lovely review!

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    1. Naomi, that's the best praise a book reviewer can get, right? That they made someone want to read the book they reviewed. I hope you can read it soon! (And I hope I can reread it soon!)

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  5. Aahhh, I love this review! I'm so, so happy you loved it. I do think this is her best book to date! Somehow all the things just clicked perfectly here. I didn't cry, but the emotions of the characters definitely touched me. I was swept up into Italy and was so immersed that when I finally came to the final page, it took quite a bit for me to come down into reality again! Wonderful review, now I need another reread!

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    1. Kara, I liked this so much, I'm giving a copy to a friend for Christmas. It just needs to be shared. So well done.

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