Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Format: Hardback, 304 pages
Summary Via GoodReads
My Rating: ★★
Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.
Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus—the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.
Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera’s curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan’s warmth and passion, Vera can’t supress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too—and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.
When the dangerous mysteries of Emil’s past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice—whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.
One of the other reasons I chose to read this was because I thought since this was in prohibition time it would be more historically significant. Other than one scene where Emil takes Vera to a speakeasy, there isn't much in the setting that tells us this book takes place during prohibition time. Mostly because the rich people still have access to alcohol, so I kept forgetting when this was supposed to take place.
I will say that I did like the back and forth narrative so we could figure out why Vera and Bea weren't friends anymore. I was interested in why, but when I found out it just made me dislike Vera even more than I already did. Vera didn't have a any backbone and she just did what she was always told to do. I will admit that I felt sorry for her, because her unhappy marriage was really depressing. So I got why she ends up getting involved with Emil, but I just didn't buy the romance at all. She spends half of the book berating the guy about how inappropriate he is and then all of sudden they are in bed with each other. It didn't feel like a slow burn romance to me, it just happened all of a sudden and I just couldn't buy into it.
I'm on a fence about the ending. I was glad that Vera found a way out of her unhappy marriage, but to me it just felt really forced. I never bought the romance between Vera and Emil. I found it really hard to relate or even like Vera so by the end of the novel I just didn't care.
This book was definitely not for me, and I think I've learned my lesson to stay away from period pieces. If you like classic 1920s novels, I would suggest giving it a try. Definitely recommend for anyone that likes books such as The Great Gatsby, just not for me.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
Happy Reads Everyone!