I’ve read a few short story collections by Patsy Collins that I enjoyed. At the end of one was an extract for this book which hooked my attention. I finally got around to reading it, I managed to get a copy from my local library. But you can buy it on Amazon in ebook or physical book format.
Synopsis from GoodReads
“Mavis Forthright carefully planned her jump from Portsmouth’s Round Tower. She’s existed for over five decades. Lived hardly at all. Will end her misery with a few second’s fall into the cold sea. Except she’s not quite ready to die. A half day’s delay to try a bacon sandwich from the cafe won’t matter. Mother’s no longer there to disapprove.
She delays another day to lend Janice a book. Then a week to use her new paints. A month. Until the end of term. Mavis makes new plans; to create paintings full of emotion, to live, perhaps even make friends.
As if to balance her survival a number of people connected to Mavis die. At first that doesn’t matter. They’re people she dislikes. Mavis continues painting, tending her garden, feeding the birds and keeping her home properly clean, without additional concern. Then people who’ve been kind to Mavis are killed or injured. That shouldn’t happen.
Why are people dying? Is it because of charming Norman who’s back from her past, or is that strange boy Jake her mistaken guardian angel? Perhaps Mavis herself is to blame. She must learn the truth, stop the deaths and protect those she’s learned to care about before she can enjoy the new life she’s making for herself”
When the story starts Mavis is contemplating ending her life, I felt sorry for her and was rivetted wondering what would happen to her. As the story progresses we learn more about her, about how she looked after her mother until her death and how her mother’s personality and the way she controlled Mavis shaped her as a person.
Even though at times I felt like shouting at Mavis for her thoughts about things- like the way her mind reacts to things her coworkers say-I can relate to how your mind may think people don’t like you and provide evidence when in hindsight you may be wrong. Mavis has gone through life with this negative view, this defensive view, and slowly things start to change after a stranger suggests she do a course. Mavis starts to make little changes in her life, she finds opportunities and takes them. I hoped that Mavis would find her way out of her suicidal thoughts with so much left to do in life: friends to make and hobbies to learn and enjoy.
When odd accidents started to happen this added a whole new element to the story, I was already rivetted but this kept me thinking. It turned into a mystery as Mavis wondered if they were all linked and it was intriguing trying to figure out what was going on.
Mavis is an interesting character whose thoughts and feelings are plain to see, I loved reading about her beautiful garden and the way that the art is described pulls you right into the character’s world.
At times this is a sad book but you can learn a lot about life from Mavis’s story. I enjoyed this book and was sad to leave Mavis and her friends behind.
Paint Me A Picture is an absorbing book that you won’t want to put down and will leave you wanting to read more. I recommend it.