Ella Graham is a very busy and talented portrait artist living in London. When she’s lumbered with her sister Chloe’s fiancé, Nate, as her latest subject, she’s extremely unhappy, wanting nothing to do with him since overhearing him speaking disparagingly about her sister. But it’s not long before Ella realises that first impressions can be misleading. If this wasn’t enough, along with battling with her emotions regarding Nate, Ella also has to work out what to do when the father who abandoned her as a child gets back in touch, wanting to see her. Luckily for our heroine, her clients and their life stories, shared with Ella during sittings, provide wisdom and perspective and help her determine how to solve these dilemmas.
Ella was a likable character, and having the subjects of her portraits play such a large part in the story was an intriguing idea, which I thought it worked well. Ella’s conversations with these individuals helped to shape her life and their advice and experiences made a big impact on her. Ella was intelligent, talented and a little complicated, making her a great lead and one I really enjoyed reading about.
I loved how the true details of Ella’s father’s desertion emerged bit by bit. Just as I thought I’d made up my mind about the characters involved something else would come to light and I’d be forced to reconsider my opinions again. When the truth was finally uncovered it was expected but perfect for the situation and certainly caused some family tensions!
I have to admit, I wasn’t completely convinced by Ella and Nate’s ‘rightness’ for each other. Yes, they’d spent time together during the sittings and a couple of other times also, but I needed more for them to be basing their love on. Nate’s excuse for not calling off his wedding despite his feelings for Ella just came across as lame: if he really did feel strongly about Ella, he would have cancelled the wedding, not least because it wouldn’t be fair on Chloe to go ahead with the marriage.
Having enjoyed the complexity of Ella’s mother and the tenderness of Ella’s relationship with her stepfather, I was a bit disappointed when I couldn’t really get to grips with Chloe’s character; she seemed very immature and a little flighty. I would have liked more scenes with her so I could decide for myself whether Chloe was a good fit for Nate.
‘The Very Picture of You’ stars a brilliantly inspiring young woman who kept me thoroughly absorbed in this novel. Ella’s profession was obviously well researched and her clients made fascinating secondary characters. I wasn’t completely bowled over by Ella and Nate’s compatibility, but I did become quickly engrossed in the mystery of why Ella’s beloved father left his family, the conclusion of which was frankly fantastic.