A Portrait of Emily Price 😘 Book Review

Written by Thelonia

To counteract the winter blues, sometimes you just need to curl up with a good book about Italian food, men, and art. A Portrait of Emily Price is just the ticket on a cold winter's day.

I've never read anything by Katherine Reay before, but from what I can tell, her works are inspired by classic literature (from Jane Austen works in the case of Lizzie and Jane, Dear Mr. Knightley, and the works of the Bronte sisters in The Bronte Plot). Her latest, A Portrait of Emily Price, is no exception to the rule.

This is more in terms of character than anything else. Emily Price, art restorer, has a compulsive need to 'fix' things, and has a hard time recognizing when things should just be left well enough alone, making her a rather clear analogue to Jane Austen's Emma.

When the book starts, Emily is sent to Atlanta to restore the inside of a house after a fire. Almost immediately, she meets Ben, an Italian chef who’s come to the States to help with his aunt and uncle’s Restaurant.

Soon finding herself caught in a whirlwind romance, Emily finds herself married within the week, and picks up and follows Ben back to Italy. Once there, she realizes that maybe she should have considered a few things before she packed up and moved to Italy without even speaking the language.

To be honest, the plot could have failed really hard for me personally considering how much I find myself irritated by characters like Emma. However, Emily worked for me as a protagonist specifically because her faults, while coming from a good place, aren’t minimized or brushed over: she is a reckless “fixer,” who barges in sure she has the solution and ends up meddling in affairs she knows nothing about, something amplified by her very foreignness and incongruousness in Ben’s Italian family.

It legitimately feels at times like she’s made a terrible mistake for a good chunk of the novel. Yeah, Ben is cute, but what is there for Emily to do in Italy? She feels that too, and so throws herself into projects. This is ultimately the reason why she meddles so much to begin with – she doesn’t feel like she can contribute anything else, and she wants to please the people around her. Unfortunately for Emily, that is something that backfires almost immediately.

The family drama gets resolved eventually, thanks to some persistence and an increasing willingness on everyone’s part to start accepting each other as they are instead of just shoving all the skeletons (and various hobgoblins that go with them) into the closet and hoping you die before you ever have to deal with them.

Like Emma, Emily sometimes gets too involved in trying to fix things, sometimes when it seems like she should really just butt out. And the resolve is interesting – it’s not so much that she should never meddle, but rather that she should meddle with all the information available to her – a motto I heartily endorse as a nosy person myself.

My main takeaways from A Portrait of Emily Price are that I need to get back on Duolingo and practice my Italian, and that sometimes there’s nothing better than a cute little book about love, art, Italy, and carb-laden food to help the winter blues.

A Portrait of Emily Price is available on all book distributors online.

1 comment:

  1. My friend once told me about the book but I couldn't get much detail about it. After reading your review I would suggest that you have done a good review and I would suggest my friend to go through it.