There was quite a bit of buzz about Katie Fforde’s books a while back, so I was excited to try one of them. Maybe I picked the wrong one or maybe I just don’t get it. Either way, Artistic License features a terribly flighty heroine who never endeared herself to me and the book, while a quick read, was much ado about nothing.
Our heroine Thea gave up her career as a photojournalist after she had her heart broken. Now, she lives in Gloucestershire and rents out rooms to students who mostly take advantage of her soft heart. On a whirlwind trip with her overbearing friend Molly, Thea meets Rory, a young Irish artist. When Thea finds out that her house had been the scene of a party given by the students and hasn’t been cleaned up, she leaves the mess where it is and impulsively goes to Ireland to visit Rory. She falls in love with his painting and determines that she will open an art gallery to bring Rory’s art to the world! Yes, that exclamation point is a measure of how enthusiastic she is about the project.
Okay, does this seem normal to you? Opening an art gallery, something Thea knows nothing about, to show paintings of a man she barely knows. Oh, and one of her reasons is she wants to keep Rory from trying to show his paintings in America when he finds out that there is no good gallery space available in England for at least two years. Thea can’t bear the thought of England losing Rory’s artistic talent. Oooo-kay. I kept reading and the more I read, the more I thought, “What a freak.” Okay, a little strong reaction, I admit, but I could not understand this woman. Nor did I think her actions were very humorous.
Thea obviously needed purpose in her life and the art gallery screams “Purpose!” Other than that obvious fact, there’s not much else in the way of character development for Thea. The other major characters aren’t terribly well-rounded either. You have to dip down into the secondary tier of characters to find the best of the lot – Toby, the son of Thea’s love interest, Ben. Thea and Ben meet while she’s standing in the garbage can in her messy house. Ben has come to help Petal (Molly’s niece and one of Thea’s spoiled borders ) move some of her things. They are brought back together after Thea’s and Molly’s trip and when Thea begins work on the gallery. Ben has many contacts in the art world and is distantly related to Molly, who becomes Thea’s partner in the gallery. They argue constantly, and each tends to jump to conclusions about the other, though Thea is the worse offender. Will they live happily ever after? I don’t think so, not that I really cared.
Molly and Petal are two annoying women. Molly steamrolls Thea constantly, and Petal is a baby diva, around whom the world revolves. Fortunately both Petal and Molly shape up once they become involved with Thea’s gallery and the three women work together in a way that is beneficial to them all. Thea learns to stand up for herself more and she is able to focus Molly and Petal’s energies.
Rory the artist is a flighty character, too. Thankfully his purpose is more to give Thea’s life focus than anything else. He’s definitely not a person to count on, and he disappoints Thea in a huge way. He does redeem himself toward the end and to his credit, he’s got lots of charm. Rory is a good contrast to Ben, who is helpful to Thea and a stable person.
Despite the character annoyances, the book moves at a fast, almost frenetic, pace. It’s an easy read without a lot of substance to weigh it down. Readers who are more tolerant toward flighty heroines might appreciate Artistic License more than I did, but its flimy underpinnings certainly don’t warrant the book’s hardcover price. But then, I wouldn’t even pay paperback price for this one.