3 1/2 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I was drawn to it by it's similarities to The Picture of Dorian Gray. I think that Natalie is a strong character and I like what the book has to say about the gender issues of the Victorian era, and the way people with disabilities were viewed then as well. I especially like the dedication. "To all who have struggled to make their voices heard, historically and presently."
There were a few questions that were left unanswered that I would have liked to know the answers to. Why was the painting being sold in the first place? What exactly is The Society? Did Natalie's father believe the story in her journal?
The story unfolds mainly through Natalie's journal. It is a nice idea since she is mute and it makes it easy for us to get to know and understand her. But I'm not sure it did justice to the rest of the characters in the book. More background information on Jonathan would have been welcome. It would have helped flesh out his character more.
I always have a hard time with love stories that happen too quickly in books. In this one they know each other for a very short time and are in love. I just wish it would have been more gradual and over a longer period of time. Months instead of weeks could have lapsed with Natalie visiting Jonathan and it would have been more believable to me. I wasn't crazy about what would have been considered improprieties in their relationship for that time period either. Though Natalie does stop things at a certain point, I felt it was too far for the time period, and it made the relationship seem too inspired by physical desires instead of true love.
I would have liked to have seen more of the villain in the book. He felt sinister to a point, but only popped in and out of the story a few times. Again with the way the story is told it makes it impossible for us to see more of him and what motivates him.
All that being said, I still really liked the book and am willing to ignore what I felt were it's weaknesses. If there is a sequel then I will definitely read it.