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Book Giveaway: The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

(30 Posts)
TinaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Jun-14 10:42:03

This week we're giving away 50 copies of Natasha Solomons The Gallery of Vanished Husbands.

At thirty a woman has a directness in her eye. Juliet Montague did anyhow. She knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to buy a refrigerator. But in a rash moment, Juliet commissions a portrait of herself instead. She has been closeted by her conservative Jewish community for too long, ever since her husband disappeared. Now she is ready to be seen.

So begins the journey of a suburban wife and mother into the heart of 1960s London and its thriving art world, where she proves an astute spotter of talent. Yet she remains an outsider: drawn to a reclusive artist who never leaves Dorset and unable to feel free until she has tracked down her husband – a quest that leads to California and a startling discovery…

Full of warmth, humour and poignancy, this colourful and captivating tale is the perfect summer read for fans of Rachel Joyce and Marina Lewycka.

Click here to apply for a copy.

If you receive a free copy, don't forget to tell us what you thought on this thread, or in our reviews section.

CillaBlacksOrangeBouffant Mon 23-Jun-14 10:57:54

Thank you!

frazzledbutcalm Mon 23-Jun-14 20:43:04

Have applied, fingers crossed.

Caly2014 Sat 28-Jun-14 18:51:46

This has been on my to-read list, I hope I get a copy!

TinaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 30-Jun-14 10:21:09

Thanks to everyone who applied, this giveaway is now closed. We'll be in touch if you've won a copy.

Shaler Fri 18-Jul-14 20:50:05

Thank you for my copy of the book which arrived today and was a (very welcome) surprise as I did not receive an email to say I was going to get one! smile

rachyj79 Tue 22-Jul-14 10:55:48

Very pleased to have received this, also didn't get an e-mail before hand so had a nice suprise.Thankyou.

tinypumpkin Tue 22-Jul-14 14:14:21

Another very grateful MNer. I have started this and it is good so far. I will post again when I have read some more. I like the writing style of the short bit that I have read.

mum2reilly Tue 22-Jul-14 20:06:34

Thanks for my book, I've made a start and enjoying it so far. Just tweeted my photo and will submit my very first book review once I'm finished.

Shaler Tue 22-Jul-14 21:01:41

Received an email about it now but have never used Twitter so don't know how to tweet a photo. Is it ok for me just to do the review?

Caly2014 Sat 26-Jul-14 18:10:18

Very happy to have received a copy and tweeted a photo of it last week. I I am going to start reading it tonight and will post a review when I have finished it. Thanks Mumsnet!

cavylover Sun 27-Jul-14 22:49:09

Story of a young woman trapped between two worlds who has difficulty fitting into either one in a different era to ours kept me guessing throughout as to where it was heading. Just when you thought one thing was going to happen, something different happened. It was also interesting to see the constraints of the period and just how much times have changed. An original story with many twists and turns.

Auriga Sun 27-Jul-14 22:52:24

Have clicked on the link, it says the form is private and cannot be viewed by the public.

Auriga Sun 27-Jul-14 22:53:30

Oops, just refreshed and found this was an old thread. Don't know how that happened.

kath2 Mon 28-Jul-14 20:48:54

Received a copy! Yay, thank you! Have started reading it and am really enjoying it :-)

Cheboludo Tue 29-Jul-14 10:23:15

Thanks very much for my copy.
I thought this started slowly but, after the first 100 pages, it was an interesting and enjoyable read. The character of Juliet is wonderfully drawn, we understand her passions and root for her throughout the book.

Shaler Tue 29-Jul-14 22:52:40

A beautifully written and evocative story about a woman abandoned by her husband and her journey of self-discovery. Expected to live as a widow by her community, Juliet Montague wants more from life and, after years of living in limbo, a chance encounter with an artist provides the catalyst for the change in her life. Here I started to think it might be a typical boy meets girl love story but it is not that at all and the book has many enjoyable twists and turns. Each chapter begins with the title of a painting of Juliet, listed as it would be in an art exhibition, and explores the time in her life when the picture was painted and how it came about. The heroine is a remarkable and brave woman who challenges society's norms. Despite her insecure and flawed nature, I could not help but like her and want her to succeed although I found some of her decisions questionable. In her need to follow her passions, she does make mistakes and what interested me most was the relationships she had with her children and the impact her decisions had on them. The book is also filled with fascinating secondary characters that I would have liked to know more about. An easy read, but one that left me pondering about the nature of love and relationships and how our decisions and secrets affect our children and those around us. I would not hesitate to read another book by Natasha Solomons.

notyetpastit Thu 31-Jul-14 08:45:02

Just back from holiday - thanks for the book. Have just begun and will post again when I've finished it.

Caly2014 Sun 03-Aug-14 17:21:14

Having just finished this book I found it an enjoyable read. The plot is about a Jewish wife abandoned by her husband so living in limbo with no real place in society until she meets a group of artists and begins working at a gallery. Juliet doesn't really fit in either the high-society art world or the suburban Jewish community and the book follows her life.

I found Juliet to be quite a self-centred character e.g. ignoring introductions to people on a couple of occasions, dragging her children on a voyage to New York to find their father without warning them they might see him. The missing husband is actually quite a minor plot-line as it isn't explored in depth but instead the impact of him disappearing is.

Some of the descriptive writing in this book is beautiful and the plot is all tied up neatly at the end. It isn't a 'feel-good' book but was engaging and original.

MabelSideswipe Sun 03-Aug-14 21:53:54

Thanks for the copy which I have just finished. I enjoyed it and thought it was very well written. I found some of it very realisitic such as the envy and petulance of the daughter over her mother's appeal to the artists and her reaction of becoming the woman that her mother fought not to be. I also loved the relationship between Juliet and Max and found the lack of obvious romance refreshing.

I did, however, struggle to believe so much in the whole story of a woman in Juliet's position rising to such a high level of success and repute in the art world. I think this would take much more than a good eye for art! I was struck by the writer's explanation in the afterward that the story was insprired by her DH's Grandmother who was in Juliet's position as 'a widow but not a widow' and then opened a very successful hair salon. Perhaps I think small but I would have loved to have read a story about this and I would probably not have been thinking 'hmmmm i am sure that would happen' so much.

Overall though a good read and a page-turner.

thewomaninwhite Mon 04-Aug-14 11:58:15

I don't quite know what to say about this! I really enjoyed it to start with and then struggled with staying engaged for a bit. I really enjoyed the last half of the book though.

I really did like the character if Juliet and was indeed rooting for her as another poster mentioned. I can see Caly's point about Juliet being self centred. It's a good one and true I think. Still really liked her, she had guts.

It did feel a bit disjointed at the end with the main focus being in the 1960s ish and then big final jumps to 1980 and onwards.

It kept me entertained and I was glad to read about Frieda's update even though I can't say that I liked her character very much.

Mabel, I agree with what you have written about this being rather hard to believe in places. The real story of the grandmother would have been very interesting to read as you suggest.

frogletsmum Wed 06-Aug-14 23:27:10

Thanks Mumsnet for my copy!

I thought there was lots to enjoy about this book - really liked the description of Juliet's suburban, middle-class Jewish upbringing. The writing is subtle and understated, rather like the character of Juliet herself. I liked the way she was quietly determined to be herself and achieve something, without ever deliberately trying to upset or provoke.

I do agree with Mabel that Juliet's rise and success in the art world feels a bit unbelievable. I also found the ending a bit unsatisfactory - I would have liked more of a resolution to the George story. As it was, it felt as if the resolution was all about the painting he took, rather than about him - which was perhaps appropriate, since Juliet seemed to miss the painting more than she did him! But I wondered why the author set George up as a potentially sympathetic character with the tragic loss of his first family, only to then show that he was basically selfish and unreliable.

I also particularly liked that Juliet's relationship with her children is difficult at times, and that the author doesn't shy away from showing that her relationship with her daughter is much more fraught than that with her son, which felt quite realistic, although I don't think she really explores why this is. The tension between Juliet and her daughter felt painfully realistic.

Generally it is an easy read, but the book explores some big ideas about what really matters to us and how we go about achieving our aims. There are also moments of great sadness in the book such as when one of Juliet's artist friends commits suicide, and when her lover Max becomes blind. It's a thoughtful and enjoyable book and I'd like to read more by Natasha Solomons.

notyetpastit Thu 07-Aug-14 20:01:49

I enjoyed the book very much and thank you for sending it to me. I didn't find Juliet a character that I could sympathise with although I did understand why she wanted to break free of the stultifying atmosphere of her community. I thought she was selfish with regard to her two children especially as they were having to cope with a missing father already.

Rhimchugh Tue 19-Aug-14 07:15:04

Thanks Mumsnet for my copy. This isn't the type of book I would ordinarily read so started with an open mind and actually really enjoyed it. I thought the relationships between characters were well-developed and liked that the boys from the gallery were all so different. The one thing that held my attention was not really knowing what aspect of the story was going to be the most developed i.e. the searc for the missing husband or A potential new relationship for Juliet. I love the portrait-painting thread and the idea of portraits capturing Juliet in different stages of life and through the eyes of the painters.

Reasontobelieve Thu 21-Aug-14 08:17:19

Thank you for sending me this book. I enjoyed reading it, but found that in order to do so, I had to accept a lack of realism and try not to question whether some aspects of the plot were believable. After a while, I began to see it as a work of whimsy and just went along with the plot.

I think that the main problem is that there are too many different themes and as another reviewer has said, I found it hard to accept that the main character could rise to the top of the art world in the way described. I did like the way in which it was linked together by the titles of work of art and loved the period detail.

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