A Post: Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

This is a book blog, so I should probably say something about what I've read recently, right? The (sporadic) new posts on Mondays were designed to help me choose titles and then actually commit to reading them... Hopefully, this will push me to blog regularly, as well.

So, in the spirit, here are some mini reviews for your eyes:
I finished The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild last month and walked away feeling a little disappointed. The novel had a fun premise: a lonely, thirty-something woman in London finds an old painting in a bric-a-brac shop and takes it home without realizing it's a great masterpiece. As the reader learns more about the painting, Rothschild introduces characters from around the globe, coming together to give the audience a view of the art world– the money, the corruption and scandal, and everything that makes the scene so exclusive.

While I found each bit really interesting, it seemed like there were too many elements competing to really tell a solid story. I often forgot who certain characters were because they wouldn't be mentioned for fifty pages or more.  Characters were sometimes too absurd to be taken seriously, and this really goes for most of the cast, so clearly built on ridiculous stereotypes that it often made me wince. I got the feeling that this was intentional but it just felt off. I must admit, however, that I LOVED the moment when the painting, itself, took over the story and revealed sordid stories of those who had owned it before (think Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria). It recently made the Bailey's longlist, so it's worth checking out, but didn't work for me. (2.5 stars)
Hilarious sketches about everyday life. Less about cats (as the title suggests) and more about the everyday experiences of being a human being in this day and age. I laughed until I cried so many times. Definitely recommend. (3.5 stars)
The Brontë Plot* follows Lucy, a voracious reader and assistant to a successful antique's dealer and interior designer in Chicago, who employs questionable judgement when she adds inscriptions to the old books she sells to raise the value. Caught up in her need to embellish and tell stories, Lucy doesn't necessarily realize what she's been doing is wrong until it threatens a romantic interest. Believing all is lost, Lucy pushes forward and accepts a client's offer to visit England, where she decides to right her wrongs and face her painful past.

I'd say The Brontë Plot is fun but not the read of the year. The characters aren't very engaging and many of their actions are hard to believe. However, what the author lacks in creating realistic characters, she more than makes up for with her ability to build atmosphere. This really saved it, especially the last half, as Reay describes in great detail the moors where Anne, Charlotte, and Emily based so many of their tales. All and all, I don't think I'd recommend this unless I knew someone really loved literary references. (2.5 stars)

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from Random House through in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviews to Come:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Girl at War by Sara Nović

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

What are you reading?


  1. That's disappointing about the Rothschild book. I'll probably wait to read it now. I agree with you on the Bronte book. It wasn't the best writing, but somehow it still managed to keep me entertained. I kindled her other two books, which I think will be good for when I'm in a reading rut and need something light to get me reading again ( or at least I hope they will ). Thanks for sharing! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Girl at War - just got it for Easter and can't wait to read it!

    1. I mean some people really loved it so I wouldn't swear it off forever. I may have even loved it if I'd read at another time or went into it with different expectations.

      I didn't know she had other books in this same vein so I'll def be on the lookout. The literary references were great but I didn't really love the story.

  2. I'm with you in feeling underwhelmed by The Improbability of Love. It sounded like it would be so good! I think I'm alone in feeling like the painting voice was a little out of place (so many people seem to like it!) and totally agree on the pacing/character issues.

    1. I mean I don't think the perspective was seamless but I did enjoy the parts when the painting swept the reader back in time. I think that really says more about my love of historical fiction than anything else.

  3. What a bummer that The Improbability of Love didn't work for you! I always say that multiple narratives are so hard to write. It's never a good sign when you actually forget characters!


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