cover image A Portrait of Emily Price

A Portrait of Emily Price

Katherine Reay. Thomas Nelson, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7180-7791-4

Romance novelist Reay (Dear Mr. Knightley) crafts another engaging and sprightly page-turning bildungsroman. Emily Price is an art restorer and artist with underdeveloped talent and some personal blind spots. She works for an Italian expatriate based out of Atlanta, who has an exquisite art sensibility and a family that includes a handsome, sexy brother, Ben, who can cook and charm. After Emily falls for Ben, she acquires a set of Roman in-laws with secrets and another way of life. When Emily heads to Rome to meet the family, everybody has something to learn, not least the young American woman who discovers how to look at people and art with more care and consideration. The American-goes-to-Europe plot is a real chestnut, familiar but nicely revived by Reay who hits a sweet spot between adventure romance and artistic rumination; the novel finds a fantastic groove where chick lit meets Henry James. Reay’s well-realized characters enliven the formula, and the moral development of the heroine owes a lot to the Jane Austen novels that Reay has echoed in other works. Though not every detail of Italian culture rings quite true, on the whole this is another delight from Reay. Agent: Claudia Cross, Folio Literary Management. (Nov.)