The Gallery of Vanished Husbands, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


At thirty a woman has a directness in her eye. Juliet Montague did anyhow. She knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to buy a refrigerator. But in a rash moment, Juliet commissions a portrait of herself instead.

She has been closeted by her conservative Jewish community for too long, ever since her husband disappeared.

Now she is ready to be seen. So begins the journey of a suburban wife and mother into the heart of '60s London and its thriving art world, where she proves an astute spotter of talent.

Yet she remains an outsider: drawn to a reclusive artist who never leaves Dorset and unable to feel free until she has tracked down her husband - a quest that leads to California and a startling discovery.




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A charming mash-up of <i>The Shell Seekers</i> and <i>The Innocents</i> that I probably wouldn't have bought or downloaded but didn't mind borrowing from the library. Juliet Montague - ha, see what she did there - is an <i>aguna</i>, a Jewish woman who is neither widowed nor divorced but shamefully separated from her husband all the same. Set in the suburbs of London during the late 50s and 60s, Juliet is pitied and feared by her conservative parents and the small-minded, middle class community in which the family live. Raising two young children alone, Juliet's new life is kick-started by a chance meeting with a budding artist, who recognises Juliet's artistic eye and paints the first of many portraits. Vanished husband George still manages to shape Juliet's life in absentia, and her quest to free herself from her vows even leads the Montague family to America.Even though nothing very much happens - a lot like <i>Instructions for a Heatwave</i>, add that one to the list too - I did feel like I came to 'know' if not like the characters. The Jewish community is painted in a very negative light, judging Juliet and forcing her to conform to a very narrow set of rules, and the story could have been set in any twentieth century decade, but Juliet, Leonard and Frieda remain in the foreground throughout.

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