The Very Picture of You (Hardcover)

By Isabel Wolff

Bantam, 9780553807844, 336pp.

Publication Date: October 4, 2011



Where the eye sees the brushstroke, the heart sees the truth.
From Isabel Wolff, the internationally bestselling author of A Vintage Affair, comes a beguiling novel about artistic inspirations, family secrets, and the courage to turn one’s life into a masterpiece.
At thirty-five, Gabriella Graham—“Ella” to her family and friends—has already made a name for herself as a successful portrait artist in London. She can capture the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalize it on canvas. This gift has earned Ella commissions from royals and regular folks alike.

But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait.

From session to session, Ella begins to see Nate in a different light, which gives rise to conflicted feelings. In fact, through the various people she paints—an elderly client reflecting on her life, another woman dreading the prospect of turning forty, a young cyclist (from a photograph) who met a tragic end—Ella realizes that there is so much more to a person’s life than what is seen on the surface, a notion made even clearer when an unexpected email arrives from the other side of the world. And as her portraits of Nate and the others progress, they begin to reveal less about their subjects than the artist herself.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in Isabel Wolff’s vibrant and textured story, these words are brilliantly crafted to convey the humor, mystery, and beauty that exists within each of us.

About the Author

Isabel Wolff was born in Warwickshire, England, and attended Cambridge University. She is the author of eight bestselling novels, which have been published in twenty-nine languages. She lives in London with her family.

Praise For The Very Picture of You

Advance praise for The Very Picture of You
“A captivating, seductive view into the thoughts of an open-minded portrait artist….This novel reflects how beauty exists in all facets of life, especially in people.”  —Romantic Times Book Reviews
“Wolff’s heroine is an excellent conduit to understanding how art can reflect the true essence of those being depicted, while the story delivers all the charm and romance readers have come to expect.”  —Publishers Weekly

The Very Picture of You is a funny, poignant story about the relationships that shape who we are. Isabel Wolff writes about how staying true to ourselves ultimately gives us the things we want the very most. A thoroughly enjoyable read.”—Darien Gee, author of Friendship Bread
“Engrossing, warm, and downright delightful, The Very Picture of You is the story of an artist named Ella who does more than paint portraits—she also uncovers the secrets her subjects are keeping close. Ella is a sympathetic and textured character, one readers will cheer for as she gathers the courage to untangle the big mystery in her own past.”—Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Opposite of Me
“Isabel Wolff has done it again! The Very Picture of You is absolutely charming. You’ll root for Ella, the engaging heroine, and find yourself wishing you could sit for one of her portraits.”—Whitney Gaskell, author of When You Least Expect It