It is 1777, and England’s second-greatest portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, has a thriving practice a stone’s throw from London’s royal palaces, while the press talks up his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the pedantic theoretician who is the top dog of British portraiture.
Fonder of the low life than high society, Gainsborough loathes pandering to grand sitters, but he changes his tune when he is commissioned to paint King George III and his large family. In their final, most bitter competition, who will be chosen as court painter, Tom or Sir Joshua?
Meanwhile, two and a half centuries later, a badly damaged painting turns up on a down market antiques TV show being filmed in Suffolk. Could the monstrosity really be, as its eccentric owner claims, a Gainsborough? If so, who is the sitter? And why does he have donkey’s ears?
Mixing ancient and modern as he did in his acclaimed debut The Hopkins Conundrum, Simon Edge takes aim at fakery and pretension in this highly original celebration of one of our greatest artists.
Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite to the tour and to Eye Books for the copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
I have said it once and not doubt I will say it again, I love blogging because it introduces me to books that would have previously passed me by. When I saw the blurb for A Right Royal Face Off, I knew that I would love it. Art, rivalry and daytime TV what could be better!
The book is told from three perspectives, one from Tom (Thomas Gainsborough), one from David a servant of Tom and who writes letters home to his Ma telling her of all the exciting things that is happening to him!
Finally, Gemma, who is a working on a low budget as she puts it ‘Antiques Roadshow meets Britain’s got Talent’, where the public bring along their ‘treasures’ to be valued by the panel of experts . Muriel Mudge turns up at one of the locations with a dismembered painting that she says is a Gainsborough. Muriel is offended by one of the panel Kaz’s opinion and ridicule of it and she takes the painting away in a temper. However, when another expert begins to investigate Gainsborough’s work further they have to try to win Muriel over.
The story proceeds with Thomas recounting his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds and his commission to paint the King and Queen. The book is funny, informative and although I had come across Gainsborough’s work previously as a portrait artist, I had not seen the links with Sir Joshua and I will be looking at more books around his work. I really enjoy a book that gives me something to read more about and this has definitely has done this.
It is funny and realistic my favourite word now is coxcomb! I will leave you to find that one out for yourselves to the meaning!
Thank you for a funny, witty look at the art world, I will be looking up Thomas Gainsborough in more detail and also Simon’s other books.
Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURFACE
Author Bio –
Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.
He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years.
He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London. His first novel, The Hopkins Conundrum, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. He lives in Suffolk.
Read more about Simon and his work at www.simon-edge.com.
Social Media Links –
Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of A Right Royal Face-Off (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.