Hannah Rothschild, descendant of the Rothschild banking family and Chair of the Board at the National Gallery in London, wrote a captivating quirky book about art and society called The Improbability of Love.
It’s a book worth reading if you’re an art lover. The descriptions of places and people are colorful, and some quotes really stand out.
So far this quote is my favorite:
“Human beings are a capricious lot, slaves to fancy and fashion. They are destined to be perpetual amateurs—they don’t live long enough to be anything more. What can one do in a mere seventy or eighty years? During the first part of their lives, it’s all haste and fornication. Thenceforward most of their efforts go into staying alive.”
But there are many to choose from. Here’s another example:
“Rebecca adored his Italian use of hyperbole, his spontaneity, carnality and his childish need to be praised, cosseted. She was delighted by the way Carlo’s emotions whirled like a weather vane in a high wind so that every gust, every nuance of mood was displayed for all to see.”
Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:
Wickedly funny, this totally engaging, richly observed first novel by Hannah Rothschild is a tour de force. Its sweeping narrative and cast of wildly colorful characters takes you behind the scenes of a London auction house, into the secret operations of a powerful art dealer, to a flamboyant eighteenth-century-style dinner party, and into a modest living room in Berlin, among many other unexpected settings.
In The Improbability of Love we meet Annie McDee, thirty-one, who is working as a chef for two rather sinister art dealers. Recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, she is searching in a neglected secondhand shop for a birthday present for her unsuitable new lover. Hidden behind a rubber plant on top of a file cabinet, a grimy painting catches her eye. After spending her meager savings on the picture, Annie prepares an elaborate birthday dinner for two, only to be stood up.
The painting becomes hers, and as it turns out, Annie has stumbled across a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French painters of the eighteenth century. But who painted this masterpiece is not clear at first. Soon Annie finds herself pursued by interested parties who would do anything to possess her picture. For a gloomy, exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious sheikha, a desperate auctioneer, and an unscrupulous dealer, among others, the painting embodies their greatest hopes and fears. In her search for the painting’s identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history—as well as the possibility of falling in love again.
Irreverent, witty, bittersweet, The Improbability of Love draws an unforgettable portrait of the London art scene, but it is also an exuberant and unexpected journey through life’s highs and lows and the complexities of love and loss.
And here’s the book on Amazon: