I’m so glad I picked this little book up against my normal inclinations. The cover makes it look like serious lit-fic, but it absolutely isn’t. This is a light sci-fi/speculative book about a woman named Pepper who was adopted as a baby but whose biological mother, Ula Frost, is a famous reclusive portraitist who is said to be able to pull her clients’ doppelgängers out of her paintings from alternate universes. When Ula seemingly disappears, Pepper is contacted by lawyers and made executor of her mothers’ estate, and some sinister parties are *interested*.
Pepper’s quiet life is thrown into a very weird sort of turmoil, involving thugs from a wealthy “art collecting organization” (::cough::), country hopping in Europe, a plethora of curry and sausages when all she wants is ice cream, missing portraits, dead bodies, furtive clues, muggings, and SPOILERS multiple copies of the mother she has never met END SPOILERS.
There is also a lot of musing about alternate universes. A running motif in this book is Pepper imagining herself in alternate universes during times of stress, and or emotional upset. I don’t think these worked as well as the author wanted them to, but they added an interesting layer, as did the frequent texts between her and her husband, Ike, who are separated for most of the book, a separation that echoes their emotional distance (something that the book does resolve by the end).
Probably my biggest complaint, and why this didn’t get five stars, is that the book is so small (only 293 pages) and so much happens so quickly, there really wasn’t as much time for character development as I would have liked (although SPOILERS it’s impressive how easily she’s able to distinguish between the various Ula’s; I was attached to Blue more than any other character in this book) END SPOILERS.
I would definitely read more from this author.