Comfort author

The Very Picture
of You
by Isabel Wolff
It’s official: Isabel Wolff is joining my roster of comfort
authors. It’s an illustrious list. Here goes:
My Comfort Authors (in order of appearance, 1980-something to 2012)
Ellen Raskin
Aline, Countess of Romanones
Laurie Colwin
Elinor Lipman
Laurie R. King
Isabel Wolff
So, what makes an author a comfort author? For me, here are the
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
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.


Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

5 thoughts on “Comfort author

  1. Pingback: Elinor Lipman and the power of the comfort authors |

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