The Photograph

The Photograph

Book - 2003 | First American edition
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Penguin Putnam
Penelope Lively is a grande dame of British letters whose novels have attracted readers of Ian McEwan and Iris Murdoch-as well as those enthralled by her insight into relationships and family. The Photograph brings her talents into a whole new page-turning realm.

It opens with a snapshot: a young woman, Kath, at an unknown gathering, hands clasped with a man not her husband, their backs to the camera. Its envelope is marked DO NOT OPEN-DESTROY. But Kath's husband, Glyn, does not heed the warning. The mystery of the photograph, and of Kath herself and her recent death, propels him on a journey of discovery that sends shock waves through the lives of her family and friends. The elfin Kath-with her mesmerizing looks and casual ways-moves like an insistent ghost through the thoughts and memories of everyone who knew her: self-centered Glyn, past his lusty, passionate professorial prime; her remorselessly competent sister Elaine, a doyenne garden designer married to feckless ne'er-do-well Nick; and their daughter Polly, beloved of Kath, who oscillates between home and family and the tumultuous new era she inhabits.

The Photograph, with Lively's signature mastery of narrative and psychology, explores issues that extend far beyond its London suburban setting: a woman's beauty and its collision with her own happiness, sisters' rivalry and lovers' cooling, a marriage in supreme crisis, and the cost of professional "success" as life unfolds. It is Penelope Lively at her very best, the dazzling and intriguing climax to all she has written before.

Baker & Taylor
Finding a mysterious photograph of his late wife, Kath, holding hands with another man, Glyn begins a search that proves shocking to Kath's family and friends.

Blackwell North Amer
Searching through a little-used cupboard at home, TV history man Glyn Peters chances upon a photograph he has never seen. Taken in high summer, many years before, it shows his wife, Kath, holding hands with another man.
Glyn's work as a historian should have inured him to unexpected findings and reversals, but he is ill-prepared for this radical shift in perception. His mind fills with questions. Who was the man? Who took the photograph? Where was it taken? When? Who else knew? Had Kath planned for him to find out all along?
As Glyn begins to search for answers, he and those around him find the certainties of the past and present slipping away, and the picture of the beautiful woman they all thought they knew well distorts, changes, grows mistier.

& Taylor

Receiving a mysterious photograph of his late wife, Kath, holding hands with another man, self-centered professor Glyn begins a search that proves shocking to Kath's family and friends, who include in their number a remorseless sister, a doyenne garden designer, and a feckless ne'er-do-well. 35,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2003
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780670032051
Branch Call Number: FIC Lively, P 2003
Characteristics: 231 pages ; 24 cm


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Aug 08, 2014

Her books are always good, although this wasn't one of my favorites, simply because it seemed mostly morose and I was disappointed in that the characters all seemed so self-absorbed and careless of others.They just didn't feel as well-rounded as others she's written.

Apr 09, 2013

Very similar to another Lively novel, "How It All Began," which I also read recently and enjoyed.

mrsgail5756 Aug 08, 2012

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

Jul 28, 2012

Bravo , Penelope ! The only possible comment is - lacrimae rerum - such is this veil of tears called life......

Sep 01, 2010

A beautifully written character study with a twist.


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