A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay – A Classy Masterpiece

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Author Provided, Launch Team
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Goodreads | Wordpress
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary 
Rating: 5 out of 5

Fixing things, whether broken or not, is Emily Price’s van Gogh. As an art restorer she’s passionate about righting anything that is “wrong” and anyone that hurts. From swooping in save her sister from her flighty behavior patterns therefore saving her from herself, to perfecting her work as a restorer, she likes projects. Her latest job takes her to Atlanta where two things happen. First, her life changes for the better… and coinciding with this euphoria is when everything falls apart. It’s Atlanta where she meets, Ben, an Italian chef who sweeps Emily off her feet. Their whirlwind romance leads them to Italy where Emily discovers long buried secrets in Ben’s family that changes everything.

Believe me when I sincerely say the following: the skill with which Katherine tells each of her stories impresses me like none other. The writing, the storytelling, and the characters surpass every checklist you want a fictional story to checkmate. Her skills embody precisely what stellar fiction should. This story, Katherine’s latest is one I read as a read along with blogging friends, and the experience is richer for it.
Every single yellow-petaled, black-centered, stiff-stalked flower stared right at me- for the very first time."
Aside from the writing and skill that goes into every one of Katherine’s novels, the unique markers of them are the literary nods each one carries. This one is no different. Jane Austen’s Emma is easily recognizable in A Portrait of Emily Price. What I adore so much about these books is their balance of the two entities. Reay knows how to uphold the integrity of the classics without sullying them, blending, without altering, into them her own story. All of which she does with the greatest ease. For the reader, this comes off as if its an effortless marriage of these two presenting subjects. What’s so special about this novel in particular is its titular character, Emily Price.

Her flaws aren’t suppressed or hidden, and the first-person voice exposes these in such a beautiful way. The turmoil, heartbreak, romanticism and joy of this story are indescribable entities to put to paper. Emily’s “need” to “fix” something that’s broken is a compulsion that she underestimates and ironically, is taught to correct by people who don’t really know her. Emily’s journey is one that inspires, and compels the reader to take a look at our idiosyncrasies and wonder if this is how we view life. All this said and I’ve not even touched on the amazing character of Ben. There’s so much to say about him, and yet putting it down on paper seems so impossible. In a single paragraph (in the first five pages), he walks into Emily’s (and our) life, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be a goner. With that, I feel enough has been said.

Reay’s novels are impossible to talk about in the manner they deserve. They’re the kind of stories that beg to be re-read seconds after the final page because there’s simply no way one reading allows its reader to truly absorb all of its nuances. Classy. Smart. Endearing. Beautiful. All of these adjectives and more are inadequate to describe the worth this story has, but they come closest. Solid storytelling, brilliant relationship and character building (complete with starry eyed romance), and memorable joy in the smallness of life come together like the greatest masterpiece on a gallery’s wall to form A Portrait of Emily Price.

SynopsisEmily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible? - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

Review text is © Copyright 2011-2016 Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com 


  1. I am so so SO looking forward to this book! I have heartily enjoyed Reay's books thus far, especially Dear Mr. Knightley :-)

    1. I have to, Rachel. Oh my goodness, they've all been lovely. I think, for me, it's a toss up between this one and Dear Mr. Knightley as my favorites!

  2. My jaw dropped. Actually dropped. Thank you. Feeling a little inarticulate with such a beautiful review. :) ... Thank you.

    1. Hi, Katherine. Thank you for the chance to read and review this story. It's always a pleasure, and I so appreciate you sharing these stories with us. :)

  3. Lovely review as always, Rissi! SUCH a beautifully written book. It just may be Katherine's best yet! :)

    1. I agree! It may very well be her best yet. Such a beautiful, wonderful novel. :) Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.


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