The Painted Kiss focused on Gustav Klimt’s influence on Emilie. Emilie grew up in Vienna and took art lessons from Klimt. For much of the story, Emilie was a youngster with typical angst at having to learn art techniques from an actual artist. Emile was spunky, but somehow I found it a little boring that so much of this story took place when she was so young. The second narrative took place several years later at the height of World War II as Emilie and her sister struggled to survive. Much of that later story line had Emilie musing about her prior life and missing it. Her lack of knowledge or drive to pick her own fruit or bake her own bread not only showed the privileged lifestyle she had, but also made her appear sort of spoiled. Any connection I felt with her as a child, I lost the more I read about her as this adult during the war.
I did like the parts of the novel that showed Emilie sitting for Klimt as a model and making dresses that were used in his portraits. Their love story started to pick up once Emilie grew up but the roots of it were easy to spot when she was a child who was smitten with her teacher.
Overall, I felt this story lacked heart and that there was not enough insight into Emilie’s spirit and emotions. For example, she never really expressed her frustration that Gustav didn’t make her his wife, but from the other characters it was obvious it was well-known.