Once, long ago when the men were away at the war, Alma began painting portraits of the women of the town in lieu of payment for catching all the rats. His special favourite was Alice, who returned his attentions. Her husband, George, set out to reclaim his wife by shifting a hill to improve the view - using a wheelbarrow.
Now, decades later, Alma's "in lieu" payment is revived so that an abandoned mother living in a depressed town can make her way. For the other townspeople looking to escape various corners of despair, drawing classes provide the answer. For when you draw, the only thing that matters is what lies before you.
'Paint Your Wife' is an ambitious, colourful novel. It brims with rich stories and even richer characters.