A Painted Smile by Frances Fyfield
|A Painted Smile by Frances Fyfield|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A well-written and very readable crime thriller which works well as a standalone depite being part of a series. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304/6h56m||Date: November 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Diana Porteous is young, rich and a widow. She's reached the stage of being over the initial grief after the death of her husband, but her life lacks focus. It's then that her beloved step-grandson, Patrick, comes up with an idea: he suggests an exhibition of portraits entitled A Question of Guilt which encourages people to really look at the pictures and work out what they think the subjects are doing. It began in a rather light-hearted way but it's not long before everyone is caught up in the preparations for the exhibition, to be presented in the large wine cellar under the old schoolhouse. Not everyone is sure that it's suitable though...
Swept up in life again, Di Porteous is busy and develops a rather strange relationship with a mysterious woman who encourages Di and her friend Sarah Fortune to steal from a public collection. That's not quite as odd as it sounds as both Di and Sarah have a criminal history: Di first met her future husband when she broke into his home to steal from it. They're not the only thieves, either: at a local life-drawing class one of the artists dies and a friend of Di's steals from his home and places the pictures in the old wine cellar.
It must be going on for twenty years since I last read Frances Fyfield: we drifted apart after I exhausted everything the local library had to offer, so it was with a shock of recognition that I picked up A Painted Smile, without realising that it was part of an ongoing series. To begin with, that worried me as I wasn't certain that I would be able to do justice to a book where most readers would know the backstory far better than me. In the event I found that the book read perfectly well as a standalone, with just enough of the history given to acquaint new readers but not so much as to bore existing fans. That's quality writing and that's one of the reasons that Frances Fyfield had stuck in my mind for so long.
It's an elegant story of family relationships, the adjustments we all make for family members - to their advantage or disadvantage, even when we're very young and I loved the sense of moral uncertainty about a lot of what happened. How do you return stolen paintings to a gallery when you suspect that the gallery was responsible for moving them on in the first place? How do you react to your father who got you into thieving in the first place - but he did give you a reasonable childhood of sorts?
I listened to an audio download read by Sean Barrett. Barrett has quite a deep voice and I was initially concerned that the women's voices wouldn't be convincing, but I needn't have worried. There no attempts to do 'girly' voices but Di Porteus came across particularly well and I was more than happy with Sarah Fortune and the other female characters. There was sufficient differentiation between the male characters for me to be always aware of which character was centre stage. I'd happily listen to more of his narrations.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me the text of the book, as well as an audio download.
For more audio crime (this time a police procedural) we can recommend The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves.
You could get a free audio download of A Painted Smile by Frances Fyfield with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Painted Smile by Frances Fyfield at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Painted Smile by Frances Fyfield at Amazon.com.
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