The Very Picture of You-Isabel Wolfe

The Very Picture of You

Isabel Wolfe

Bantam, May 29 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780553386639


In London, thirty-five years old Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a highly regarded portrait artist who the rich commission to paint them.  Her prime demand is that the client poses for hours as she refuses to use photos so that she bring out the true essence of the subject. 


Ella’s dad John sends her an e-mail asking to see her.  She prefers to ignore him as decades ago he dumped her and her ballerina mom for another woman.  At about the same time, Ella’s sister Chloe wins a charity auction bid in which Ella will paint her sibling’s fiancé Nate, an American working in London.  Overhearing him talk sweetly to someone over the phone, Ella loathes Nate for cheating on Chloe who is just recovering from a bad relationship.  However, as she paints Nate’s portrait, Ella begins to fall in love with her model.  She also works on other clients like the Frenchwoman having an affair and the M.P. who probably killed a bicyclist in a hit and run.  Finally there is a half-sister she never knew existed.


This is an engaging contemporary drama with a wonderful twist of having a portrait artist capturing the essence of her models on canvas.  Ella is wonderful as a watcher of others who enables the audience to learn who her subjects are (and were) though she remains somewhat distant.  Although the ending seems off kilter for this otherwise deep character study, fans will appreciate the Very Picture of You; this reviewer suggests Isobel Wolff provides a short story collection of people Ella painted before she met Nate and years after they met.


Harriet Klausner


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