The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
It’s official: Isabel Wolff is joining my roster of comfort authors. And guys? That’s an illustrious list.
My Comfort Authors (in order of appearance, 1980-something to 2012)
So, what makes an author a comfort author? For me, here are the keys.
First, a likeable female main character. Often she’s narrating the story, and she has a distinct voice that sounds real to me.
Second, a plot that is believable even as it holds small surprises. And the plot should have enough going on to hold my interest (there are detective and spies in some of the books by those authors; these books will never be set in Mitford-where-nothing-interesting-ever-happens [perish the thought]), but there should be No Trauma. Nobody (except maybe a bad guy) will die or suffer terribly. There will be none of that! in my comfort books.
Third, sometimes a romantic relationship is part of the story. And it’s gonna turn out well. The guy is worthy of our likeable female narrator.
Fourth, the setting is different from my own life’s setting, without being too exotic. When I’m looking for comfort, England and Spain are fine, but made-up planets in unknown galaxies will not do.
OK, so how’s Isabel Wolff fit in here?
Well, she’s firing on all cylinders when it comes to writing the perfect (Unruly) comfort book.
In The Very Picture of You, the main character, Ella, is a portrait painter in her mid 30s. She’s got a good life overall: her family is nearby, her best friend (a hand/foot model) is there for her, and her work is meaningful. But then some things start happening.
She learns that her mother has been lying to her in a major way about her father, who left when Ella was 5. And then her father contacts her, so that’s a whole “What to do?” scenario. And then she falls for a man who is very much not available, and that’s a whole thing, too. And there are lots of side storylines, too, about the people Ella is painting, and that adds some nice texture to the book.
Last year I loved her book A Vintage Affair, and this year, I adore The Very Picture of You. And guys? There’s a whole backlist to explore!
Feeling very comfortable here.