⏲ Read time: 3-5 minutes
Who knew that a lifestyle so lavish could make you so lonely?
In A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock, we follow Vera Bellington through two different points in her life: as a senior at Vassar College in 1913 and her in the 1920’s as a New York socialite living in the penthouse at the Angelus, the most prestige real estate on Park Avenue.
Even though she lives a life of party-attending bliss with something on her social calendar nightly, the reality that Vera faces is she’s desperate: her husband Arthur rarely comes home due to being ‘tied up at the office’ and she’s lost one of her dearest friends, Bea, due to being forced to save the family name. Vera lives in a constant cycle of emptiness and regret, despite having an elite social group.
The residents of the Angelus vote to have the pool room wall painted and enters Emil Hallan, a painter from France who all the women fall for his handsome looks and allure. When Vera approaches him, he dodges questions about his past, leaving her to wonder who this mysterious man really is.
As fate would tempt her, she finds herself falling in love with Hallan, and truthfully, who could blame her? Her husband, who never truly loved her from the beginning but rather used her family name to become a successful businessman of New York. Since having to exile her friendship with Bea, she hasn’t found a single soul who cares and respects her as much as Hallan has. Throughout the story, I found myself rooting for Vera and Hallan to get together, despite not knowing who he was. Anything was better than Arthur!
I genuinely felt awful for Vera throughout. Here is a woman who has been forced to do as her parents and husband say, without ever truly discovering herself. She hasn’t been able to let loose and feel all womanly inhibitions because it’s not ‘lady-like’ or it’s not what is expected of her, especially for the time setting.
Without spoiling, it should be noted that this isn’t a romance story where two people fall in love, but rather, it’s a story where we learn to love ourselves. Hallan gives Vera an opportunity to search within herself and discover what she really wants in life, and she quickly learns that it’s not the penthouse suite. It’s simply to be loved and wanted for more than just the family surname.
Since we follow Vera through her time at college, we learn what a true friend Bea is to her. At first, this doesn’t make sense but again without spoiling it, it all comes into place and we learn that despite where paths take us, we always watch out for those who we once had feelings for. Personally speaking, this storyline was something that resonated with me and it was beautifully executed by Brock.
I’m not one for ‘love’ stories but this was one I truly enjoyed. Forget the fact that I am in love with the glamor and glitz of the Roaring 20’s, but A Fine Imitation is a love story that makes you appreciate every tribulation and obstacle Vera overcomes to become the woman she was meant to be.
This had been sitting on my To-Read list for a while, and I truthfully forgot why I even had it on there in the first place, but it has definitely been one of the better hidden gem of the year so far.
Rating: 4 out of 5