The Improbability of Love

  • by Hannah Rothschild
  • Narrated by Barnaby Edwards, Jilly Bond
  • 17 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected secondhand shop. Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two - only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece.
But every painting has a story - and if it could speak, what would it tell us? For Annie has stumbled across The Improbability of Love, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the 18th century. Soon Annie is drawn unwillingly into the art world and finds herself pursued by a host of interested parties that would do anything to possess her picture. For an exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious Sheika, a desperate auctioneer, an unscrupulous dealer and several others, the painting symbolises their greatest hopes and fears.
In her search for the painting's true identity, Annie will uncover the darkest secrets of European history - and in doing so she will learn more about herself, opening up to the possibility of falling in love again.
Irreverent, witty and sharply sweet, The Improbability of Love explores the confusion and turmoil of life and the complexities of love, loss and hurt - revealing the lows to which human nature can stoop and the heights to which the soul can soar.

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What the Critics Say

"Novel of the week. It all adds up to an ingenious meditation on the true value of art - timely indeed at a moment when paintings and sculpture seem to have become just another currency." (Mail on Sunday)
"Though this novel goes into the darkest of dark places, the overall tone is totally delicious; conspicuous consumption on this scale hasn't been seen since the Eighties." (The Times)
"Part of the novel's charm is that its characters, rich or poor, are all a mixture of frailties. Like a Rococo painting, this clever, funny, beguiling and wholly humane romance is a treat worthy of its subject." (Independent)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A good read but a terrible female narrator

What made the experience of listening to The Improbability of Love the most enjoyable?

The story line is interesting. Light, but interesting. There is a lot of background information about art and the art world as well. The author, a member of the famous banking family, is the chair of the National Gallery and a trustee of the Tate in London, so she knows whereof she speaks. I found it an enjoyable read with a bit of an educational bonus. Win-win.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Barnaby Edwards and Jilly Bond ?

Barnaby Edwards was excellent.

Jilly Bond was so terrible that I almost returned the book within the first hour of listening. Her reading voice is fine, but when she speaks for the characters, it's so grating (especially Annie's mother and the Lifestyle Sylist) to the ear that I had to turn the volume way down. Harsh and cartoonish all at once. At first I thought she was kidding, affecting some of those voices. Sadly she was not. She ruined what otherwise would have been a good audiobook experience.


Any additional comments?

I never write reviews; this is my first one, but I felt duty bound to give fellow listeners a heads up about that awful female narrator. I hate to be mean, but I wish someone had warned me before I spent a credit on the book. I would have bought the Kindle edition instead.

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- Kathryn

Entertaining, Educational, Endless Characters

I was a little overwhelmed at first with the number of players in this book but was quickly pulled into each person and painting's back story and relationship to one another.
Read this book if you have an interest in history, painting, art dealers, trust fund babies, crooks, the working poor, fine cooking and love.
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- Elizabeth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-22-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios