Annie McCann, alone after the disintegration of her relationship, searches for a present for her unsuitable lover in a second-hand shop.
Within the jumble of junk and tack, a grimy painting catches her eye. Leaving the store with the picture after spending her meagre savings, she prepares an elaborate dinner for two, only to be stood up, the gift gathering dust on her mantelpiece.But every painting has a story – and if it could speak, what would it tell us? For Annie has stumbled across ‘The Improbability of Love’, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the eighteenth century. Soon Annie is drawn unwillingly into the art world, and finds herself pursued by a host of interested parties that would do anything to possess her picture. For an exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious Sheika, a desperate auctioneer, an unscrupulous dealer and several others, the painting symbolises their greatest hopes and fears. In her search for the painting’s true identity, Annie will uncover the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so, she will learn more about herself, opening up to the possibility of falling in love again.Irreverent, witty and sharply sweet, The Improbability of Love explores the confusion and turmoil of life and the complexities of love, loss and hurt – revealing the lows to which human nature can stoop and the heights to which the soul can soar.
Hannah Rothschild is a writer and film director. Her documentary feature films have appeared on the BBC and HBO and at international film festivals. She has written film scripts for Ridley Scott and Working Title and articles for Vanity Fair, New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and others. Her first book, The Baroness, was published in 2012 and has been translated into six languages. She will become the Chair of the National Gallery Board in August 2015, and is currently a trustee of the Tate Gallery and Waddesdon Manor, and a Vice President of the Hay Literary Festival. She lives in London.