A Review of The Photograph

06:55 Tue 05 Sep 2006. Updated: 20:44 13 Nov 2006
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Penelope Lively’s The Photograph Starts off very promisingly, drawing the reader into a tale of a man who finds a compromising photo of his dead wife while looking for old research materials.

I liked the writing style, which deftly exposes the characters’ personalities. And I found the first half quite compelling as Glyn Peters attempts to unearth what was going on with his dead wife, Kate, and her sister’s husband Nick. The level of psychological insight/complexity was impressive, and Lively’s web of relationships between the characters rung true. At least in the beginning.

In the end, however, it didn’t come together. Kate is too insubstantial, and while part of the point is that she is misunderstood by almost all of the characters, there’s just not enough of her there to convince the reader that the other characters would fixate on her.

Also, I felt that the characters became more stereotypical as the novel progressed, and the denouement only underscored this. We have the career-driven and insensitive/distracted husband, the useless and blustering husband who lacks awareness (both self- and otherwise), the determined but cold sister, and finally the deeply compassionate and truly understanding Earth Mother figure (I exaggerate here, but not by that much), who of course is the only person who Really Understood Kate.

It was still interesting, and worth reading, though. Lively reminds me of Margaret Drabble, although I think with a lighter touch.

(I read The Photograph on 15 August 2006.)

One Response to “A Review of The Photograph

  1. Niall Says:

    How was your trip?

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