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The Improbability of Love Audiobook

The Improbability of Love

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Publisher's Summary

Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected secondhand shop. Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two - only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece.

But every painting has a story - and if it could speak, what would it tell us? For Annie has stumbled across The Improbability of Love, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the 18th century. Soon Annie is drawn unwillingly into the art world and finds herself pursued by a host of interested parties that would do anything to possess her picture. For an exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious Sheika, a desperate auctioneer, an unscrupulous dealer and several others, the painting symbolises their greatest hopes and fears.

In her search for the painting's true identity, Annie will uncover the darkest secrets of European history - and in doing so she will learn more about herself, opening up to the possibility of falling in love again.

Irreverent, witty and sharply sweet, The Improbability of Love explores the confusion and turmoil of life and the complexities of love, loss and hurt - revealing the lows to which human nature can stoop and the heights to which the soul can soar.

©2015 Hannah Rothschild (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What the Critics Say

"Novel of the week. It all adds up to an ingenious meditation on the true value of art - timely indeed at a moment when paintings and sculpture seem to have become just another currency." (Mail on Sunday)
"Though this novel goes into the darkest of dark places, the overall tone is totally delicious; conspicuous consumption on this scale hasn't been seen since the Eighties." (The Times)
"Part of the novel's charm is that its characters, rich or poor, are all a mixture of frailties. Like a Rococo painting, this clever, funny, beguiling and wholly humane romance is a treat worthy of its subject." (Independent)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (91 )
5 star
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Overall
4.3 (82 )
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Story
4.3 (82 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathryn 03-29-16
    Kathryn 03-29-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    356
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    Story
    "A good read but a terrible female narrator"
    What made the experience of listening to The Improbability of Love the most enjoyable?

    The story line is interesting. Light, but interesting. There is a lot of background information about art and the art world as well. The author, a member of the famous banking family, is the chair of the National Gallery and a trustee of the Tate in London, so she knows whereof she speaks. I found it an enjoyable read with a bit of an educational bonus. Win-win.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Barnaby Edwards and Jilly Bond ?

    Barnaby Edwards was excellent.

    Jilly Bond was so terrible that I almost returned the book within the first hour of listening. Her reading voice is fine, but when she speaks for the characters, it's so grating (especially Annie's mother and the Lifestyle Sylist) to the ear that I had to turn the volume way down. Harsh and cartoonish all at once. At first I thought she was kidding, affecting some of those voices. Sadly she was not. She ruined what otherwise would have been a good audiobook experience.


    Any additional comments?

    I never write reviews; this is my first one, but I felt duty bound to give fellow listeners a heads up about that awful female narrator. I hate to be mean, but I wish someone had warned me before I spent a credit on the book. I would have bought the Kindle edition instead.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 04-17-16
    Elizabeth 04-17-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    95
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    81
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    "Entertaining, Educational, Endless Characters"

    I was a little overwhelmed at first with the number of players in this book but was quickly pulled into each person and painting's back story and relationship to one another.
    Read this book if you have an interest in history, painting, art dealers, trust fund babies, crooks, the working poor, fine cooking and love.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanna 09-15-16
    Joanna 09-15-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
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    Story
    "Storytelling at its Finest"

    From the very first word to the last I devoured this wonderful 'romp'. Quite apart from the first-class writing, the fantastic vocabulary and the feeling I was actually there; the narrators chosen were simply perfect. Discovering the Improbability of Love was a character made me laugh out loud. Brilliant. Please download - you'll feel better!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S D Ackerman - Berman 09-03-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
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    "a superb exciting Historical art journey"

    this book had me riveted from the first line.. a brilliant plot using art as the link through history . absolutely brilliant. a must for any art historian, WW2 enthusiasts and romantics!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margot T. 08-27-16
    Margot T. 08-27-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Desperate to Like this Book!"
    What disappointed you about The Improbability of Love?

    I have invested 1 precious credit and quite a number of hours and want to love this book...actually simply liking it would be fine. I typically enjoy tales about art and the "world" of art and the premise of the story is relatively interesting - although too much time is spent by the author pointing out the characters' natures and peccadillos rather than simply letting them come alive. But what is becoming an impossible hurdle is the female narrator who infuses every word, every syllable with her own commentary through an obnoxiously "knowing" inflection and unwelcome archness that spoils all possibility for Ms. Rothschild's story unfolding in the minds and hearts of her readers. I am not entirely sure my need to discover how the tale resolves is strong enough to continue to listen to what might have been an enjoyable experience being spoiled with every spoken word.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Hannah Rothschild? Why or why not?

    Perhaps - with a well chosen narrator. Susan Lyons or Jill Tanner might have lent the right tone and been able to provide vocal variations for the characters without getting in between the listener and the author.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    More than detracted, sorry to say! Got entirely in the way!


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It may well have...hard to know unless I try it in print!


    Any additional comments?

    My sympathies go to Ms. Rothschild

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Jones 07-15-16 Member Since 2014
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    25
    5
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    Story
    "Art cooking and sculduggery - what could be better"

    This book was performed beautifully. I was captured from the beginning. The long list of characters was a bit confusing but it didn't matter as the story kept me enthralled. Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan VIENNA, VIRGINIA, United States 04-26-16
    Susan VIENNA, VIRGINIA, United States 04-26-16 Member Since 2012
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    3
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    "Entertaining."

    Very enjoyable story but the reader varied the volume of her voice so much that I had to keep turning the volume up and down. Some parts were impossible to hear with background noise, like while driving. It's a great story, especially for art lovers, just listen in a quiet place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth l Friedman 04-14-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    32
    3
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    "Good book - no so good reader"

    The female reader's vocal choices were foolish for many of the characters. It distracted from the story. I had to rewind in order to understand what was being said. I wonder if my opinion of the story would be greater if the reader was different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • bookylady
    4/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I Loved Every Minute of It. Great Characters."
    Any additional comments?

    This funny, moving, satirical story of love, food and good versus evil in the world of art history, art dealers, auctioneers, oligarchs, politicians and crooks is a real tonic. I laughed out loud at various points,seethed at various injustices, empathised with the love-lorn Jesse, cheered for the heroine as she found a new life and romance after the betrayal of her long-term partner and fumed about the duplicity of 'the great and the good.'

    A surviving Nazi turned multi-millionaire art dealer hunts for a lost Watteau masterpiece, the Improbability of Love, which has personal importance and and social/moral implications for him. Its discovery in a very unexpected place triggers a story that is glorious in its complex and rich cast of characters, back stories and motivations for possessing the painting that is rumoured to bring love and happiness to its owner.

    I really enjoyed the chapters narrated in the voice of the painting itself. That was a clever and unusual piece of storytelling.

    The two narrators do an excellent job and make the story come alive, highlighting the comedy and the more serious elements of the plot very ably.

    One of my favourite books of 2016 so far and I shall definitely listen to it again at some point.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • louisa cook
    4/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Addictive"
    Would you listen to The Improbability of Love again? Why?

    I actually would listen to the book again as there was so many characters that perhaps I missed a few bits. To be honest I just thoroughly enjoyed it and feel slightly bereft without it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Difficult one as the way Hannah Rothschild had written it each character had flaws and enough redeeming factors to make them your favourite.


    What does Barnaby Edwards and Jilly Bond bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    I liked having two narrators and I found each of them brilliant. Definitely enhanced the book. Having it read to me meant that I could cook, wash up (oh the exciting life I lead) whilst still enjoy the story, not something you can do when trying to read a book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There was a couple of times that I found that I had stopped what I was doing as I had teared up. I don't want to spoil it for anyone by saying when.


    Any additional comments?

    I followed recommendations by others on Audible by getting this book and I was very pleased that I did. I look forward to more books by Ms Rothschild and will definitely be more inclined to try other books people have recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Fleetwoodboy
    4/28/16
    Overall
    "artist of the other kind !!"

    I'm sorry to say that this was an indulgence by the author to pass on her knowledge of artists and the art world for the unsuspecting public. It became dull, boring and over long with masses of padding so in the end it lost any baring of excitement or purpose . It was clear what would happen so there we're no surprises at all.
    Articulate and well read by the narrator's is the main reason I have scored this book so highly.
    May I please point out that this is only one person's opinion,mine, a dit could be the right book for somebody who wishes to indulge in name dropping past art masters .

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs Curzon Tussaud
    London, U.K.
    4/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful audiobook"
    Would you listen to The Improbability of Love again? Why?

    Possibly not, as there are so many others, and I very rarely revisit books.


    What other book might you compare The Improbability of Love to, and why?

    A non-fiction book called Wisdom and Strength, by Peter Watson. Amazon blurb: "Paolo Veronese's painting, "Allegory of Wisdom and Strength", has been acclaimed both for its technical virtuosity and its remarkable journey through history. During more than four centuries it has been a silent witness to great political dramas - war, abdication, revolution, and attempted assassination; and to the personal tragedies of emperors, queens, the royal dukes of France, and the corrupt cardinals of Italy. And it has belonged to some of the greatest collectors in history - Rudolf II, Queen Christina of Sweden, the Duc d'Orleans, Philippe-Egalite, Thomas Hope, and the picture's final owner, the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick. It now hangs among the Reynoldses, the Rembrandts and the Renoirs of the Frick Collection on New York's Fifth Avenue."


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The auction scene at the beginning where the main players were introduced to us.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I really savoured listening to it in chunks.


    Any additional comments?

    I wasn't sure if having the picture at the heart of the story narrate some of its own history was a good idea, but I was won over!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Taunton, United Kingdom
    6/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Didn't finish the book"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This book could have been so much more interesting. Part's of it are formulaic, girl has hard time, suitable suitor comes along looks like everything is going to be a predictable fairytale for adults but it is not that simple and there is a twist but it is an easy listening book, no need to engage any grey cells. The story could have been so much more but just didn't hit the mark for me. There is a sad and shameful section in the paintings past but it is handled with little sensitivity or the gravity that the topic deserved. I think the story was trying to be more than it actually is.


    What could Hannah Rothschild have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It was infantile, the sections where the painting spoke were the best part of the book for me, I did not particularly like the hero of the book, she was too much of a hard done by victim, too stereotypical, very much a carbon copy of most of the women characters in it's genre. It could have been more sophisticated, deeper, more grown up. Very much like a "chick lit" book of the 90's but trying to be something that it isn't and getting confused to what it is.


    Have you listened to any of Barnaby Edwards and Jilly Bond ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    N/A


    What character would you cut from The Improbability of Love?

    All of the glitzy, irrelevant art buyers, this would have enabled the author to spare more time on the pivotal characters.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Emily
    5/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great fun!"

    Page-turning story and great voice acting! I would definitely recommend if you like your fun mysteries with a dose of history and culture.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • S
    4/27/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unputdownable"

    This is the best book I have read/listened to in along time. Great story well told.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • library
    4/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "delightful"

    absolutely loved this book. amazing hannah rothschild. could not put it down. very highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A. Squire
    UK
    6/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Improbably enjoyable"

    A very entertaining story, read well and engaging until the end. A perfect end-of-day read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Libran Librarian
    Devizes, Wiltshire
    9/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inventive storyline."

    Great audio performances. fascinating and unusual story. Very accessible. Good pact story. Would appeal to lovers of thrillers as well as relationship stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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