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A Portrait of Emily Price Paperback – November 1, 2016
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'Reay’s sensually evocative descriptions of Italian food and scenery makes this a delight for fans of Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun. The author of The Brontë Plot writes novels that speak to the universal truths in the human heart, and her latest will appeal to readers of new adult fiction with its focus on the power of following a dream.' (Library Journal, starred review)
'Another rich, multi-layered story from Katherine Reay. Fabulously described settings will make readers long to visit Italy . . . This is a lovely tale that will nest in the reader’s heart and won’t let go.' (RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick)
About the Author
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com Facebook: katherinereaybooks Twitter: @Katherine_Reay
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Top customer reviews
Katherine Reay creates settings that are realistically flawed- even broken- and tackles the challenge of guiding her characters through them on a journey to find purpose and belonging past their work, lifestyles, and shortcomings, ultimately back home to their families in a beautiful and touching way.
As I did with "Dear Mr. Knightley", the best way to give an overall review of a work like "A Portrait of Emily Price" is with words; words like inspirational. Cultural. Bookish. Artistic. Flowing. Tasteful. Authentic. Vibrant. White on white. Cappuccino. Loyalty. Murals. Vespa. Architecture. Classic. Pizza. Traditions. Sisters. Family. Feuds. Forgiveness. Acceptance.
This…this is why I loved Katherine Reay’s Book, A Portrait of Emily Price. These characters are friends to me, now. Emily simultaneously broke my heart and warmed it with her instinct to fix everything, whether it be a pan with a loose handle or a teenager whose home Emily was restoring from a fire, whether it was her sister or her mother-in-law. I don’t do spoilers, but this instinct to fix things comes from Emily's childhood, and it is the very thing that brings her family to a boil. And solves their problems, in a way, ultimately through faith and family. I loved watching the art come out of Emily the way pizza came out of Ben, pasta out of Donata, and bread from Lucio.
And that’s the thing. Often in a Hallmark movie, a character has a job…something artsy or community-service oriented in some way. But the writers/actors fail to make that a real part of who the character is in their core. It’s kind of a token designation that a character is a florist or a poverty lawyer or whatever.
Reay has no such failure! The artsy, fix-it side of Emily, the food-and-family side of Ben made them who they are, and it made the story what it is. I want to be frowned at by Donata, fed by Ben, help Emily fix something, given a book by Lucio, watch Joseph paint. These are people I feel like I know. This is a family whose Sunday Dinners I want to join.
I was surprised not to find myself in Atlanta or Italy when I had to look up from the book…Oh, the field of sunflowers! I wanted to go sit there until they turned my direction. I want to go truffle hunting with their dog.
But the story of Emily and this family stopped my heart in places, as it frequently stopped Emily’s heart, left her not knowing what to do, panicked. As warm as these people are, as close as they are…the secrets buried in this family are heart-breaking. And heart-warming.
It’s that kind of book.
So what did I not like about A Portrait of Emily Price? The end. I literally flipped the page on my Kindle, desperate to read more, not conscious I had reached the end. But it was over. Reay does not tell us what happens with Joseph (oops, almost committed a spoiler there). She leaves us hanging, having to think it through for ourselves. Heart-warming. And heart-breaking.
Yep. It’s that kind of book.
Having read Katherine’s other novels, I started this one wondering which classic novel would be the base for the theme. The further I read, the more I saw resemblances between Emily and Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma. I don’t think Emily was as self-centered as Emma, but she definitely had the match-maker, meddlesome quality. It was a little annoying at times, but I started to feel sorry for her, knowing that she felt like she had to fix everything all the time.
I really liked the Italian setting of this book, as well as Ben’s family. They were so life-like and diverse; it really set this book apart from Katherine’s other novels. The Vassallos were an imperfect family, but underneath all they’d been through, they still loved each other. Lucio was a sweet character; he loved everyone and really helped people to see things in new perspectives. He offered the perfect balance for Emily as she tried to settle into life in Italy, countering the anger that Donata didn’t try to hide. And the descriptions of Italy and the food were great; it was like a vacation in a book.
Overall, A Portrait of Emily Price was a nice book, full of life with a beautiful setting. Fans of romance mixed with the arts, culture, and travel will love this book.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.