Vera Bellington has it all, privilege, a penthouse in 1920s New York and the life to go with it, complete with husband and glamorous social life, a Vassar education in art history…and if she was happy with all of that, there would be no novel. Vera’s life takes a turn for the exciting when her husband decides (at the suggestion of their building tenants) to hire an artist to paint a mural in the pool room in the basement of their apartment building. The muralist hired, Emil Hallan, arrives, talented, charming and always more curious about everyone else. His background seems more and more to be a mystery, but what isn’t a mystery is his interest in Vera. At the same time, Vera runs into her old college friend Bea in an art gallery, and becomes suspicious of Bea and a bit afraid of what associating again with her could mean. After all, Bea was not parent approved while at Vassar, and Vera’s mother plays a significant role in her choices.
The novel unfolds in chapters that alternate between Vera’s present day life on Park Avenue, and her college years at Vassar. The Vassar chapters reminisce about what could have been had Vera the courage to make up her own mind and follow her heart. Present day Park Avenue is the result. Her choices are a little Downton Abbey-esque, in that class, parents and propriety determine most everything.
A Fine Imitation was a quick weekend read for me, a good early summer hit. The story and subtle mystery are predictable but satisfying, and I have to say, I wasn’t on to everything as soon as I could have been. This is Brock’s first novel, and I do love a good debut…perhaps you will too!