This book won the Booker Prize, so I sort of expected a little more. It was an engaging enough read, but I figured out the great revelation of the book halfway through and then just had to wait to get there. Most of the characters spend the book gradually realizing how selfabsorbed they are, which is sort of the message of the book, but I found their selfabsorption so annoying that I felt like I couldn't appreciate the lesson. While the premise was totally interesting, the implementation of it was NOT. Plot was meandering (not in a good way), characters were almost all unsympathetic, and it was just sort of boring overall. I did read it and finish it, but only because I was on a 13hour flight and had nothing better to do! Not horrible, but not as entertaining as I'd like a book to be. I’d been hoping to read another Lively soon and then I happened to ‘eavesdrop’ on an online conversation between two writers, one saying she couldn’t stop thinking of this novel and the other saying she kept trying to figure out how Lively “did it”, which by that I took to mean its structure. I was intrigued enough to immediately request it from the library.
While I do not feel the level of obsession over this novel the two writers felt, I understand it. In fact, obsession is one of its themes—the understandable, though selfish, compulsion to reorder memories after learning a key piece of knowledge not discovered until years later.
Those who should be closest to the hovering, deceased lifeforce of the novel do not see her for who she is: the most perceptive is not a family member but one who doesn’t take h So it was immediately after I had written the update"don't like this very much" that this book turned a corner and improved! Having completed the book I can now see our author's structureand as in my previous Lively reads Ha HaI found myself sharing the same response, indeed the same values that the author uses to construct her characters.
The problem is, the first half of the book is all about set upand most of the main characters are horrible; in particular Kath's husband, Glyn Petersuuh! Every time there was a chapter devoted to him and his thoughts/way of life etc. I just shuddered and ground through.
And then there is Elaine, Kath's sistermore of the harsh, disciplined, workoholic t *** THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS ***
The Photograph was one of those books that initially it may appear to be somewhat dull and boring, but what a great read it turned out to be. Penelope does a great character study of Kath and the impact that those around her had on her life. In the process she gives us extensive background & in depth insight into the characters of each of these people. There’s Glyn, the husband; Elaine, the sister; Polly, the niece; Nick, the brotherinlaw; Oliver, The Photographer; Mary Packard, the elusive friend that we don’t know much about until near the end; and a sundry of peripheral people in Kath’s life. For much of the novel we are left to speculate as to how Kath dies, but if one reads closely, it is very apparent that she commits suicide (ten years into her marriage). Glyn finds a photograph years after her d
Thank you, thank you, Penelope Lively. At a time when I really needed a good writer to tell a good story about real grownups dealing with real situations, this novel came along.
At the outset, landscape historian Glyn is rummaging around for a paper he needs and finds an old photograph kept by his wife, who had died some years before. In it, she is seen surreptitiously holding hands with his brotherinlaw, Nick. This starts him out on a journey to discover what was going on, and more importantly, to find out whether his memory of his wife is deeply flawed.
In the process, we meet Nick, a perpetual boy living off his successful landscape designer wife, Elaine. Both are drawn so skillfully by Lively that you can be disgusted with Nick's fecklessness and attracted to him at the same time, and you can admire Elaine's courag Ï The Photograph ñ I looked forward with great anticipation to Penelope Lively's The Photograph. I believe it was selected for Today's Book Club, and most reviews have been very favorable. I must admit that I was highly saddened. I rarely discover a book I don't enjoy at least in some aspects, but I must say this one is an exception…I read the first few chapters, then thumbed through the rest, eager to find something that would peek my curiosity, really anything, that might capture my attention, but it in no way happened. The book to me was wearisomely uninteresting, so much so that as short as it is I barely made it through half of the book. I could have cared less about the ending. Walking along the beach one day, my friend Paul told me that he'd saved a young man trying to kill himself there not so long ago. Upon engaging the distraught would be suicider, he discovered that the reason for his unhappiness with the world, or with himself, was his extreme beauty. It prevented normal relations with people, with the world.
This is a story of such a personI imagine it's impossible to understand unless one is in that position. We have no conception, after all, that one could be too beautiful. Too ugly maybe, too tall, too intelligent, but never too beautiful. Difficult as it may be to grasp to see the burden of it, to empathise with it, Lively delivers.
Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.
Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Nex