On Beauty follows the intricacy of love bound up on two more or less rivalling families. Howard Belsey and Monty Kipp are both art professors duelling on the interpretations of Rembrandt paintings. Howards oldest son interns with Monty Kipps and proposes to their daughter Victoria who turns him down. Meanwhile Howard has had an affair and the relationship to his wife Kiki is on the mend.
A year later the Kipps family moves to Wellington leaving Howard and Monty at the same university.
The lives of Howard, Kiki and their three children is interwoven with the Kipps secrets are made, kept and revealed in a strikingly heartbreaking way.
The book is an exploration of why we love the ones we do and how we shape the lives of our children. It is funny and warm-hearted, sometimes awkward, sometimes boring in a slightly more polished version of reality. The book reads like poetry. It makes you believe these people who shape their lives for love and those who struggle to keep it in it.
I was deeply moved by this book. It left me wanting to speak purer and keep my loved ones close to me. I desperately read – racing for a happy ending, but when I got there it was a cold and lonely ledge that would leave my life barren of these people who’d I’d spent most of the book trying not to let in. Each and every one of these people in the book become one’s own moral and earthly fear. And each person deserves to be loved.