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The Photograph by Penelope Lively
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The Photograph (2003)

by Penelope Lively

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1,1653810,030 (3.34)127
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    The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst (ReneeGKC)
    ReneeGKC: Also about a search for the truth of a relationship. Twin books
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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
So I finally returned to this book and finished it. It still like the author's writing but I kinda wish I'd left this one alone. I didn't really need to read a book where the woman in the photograph committed suicide in despair over never having children. ( )
  Kim_Sasso | Mar 14, 2018 |
Review pending ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 25, 2018 |
Glyn's wife Kath has been dead for some time when he comes across a photo indicating that she had an affair with Nick, her brother-in-law. Glyn is floored by this and tells Elaine, Kath's sister/Nick's wife. The revelation causes repercussions which touch Polly, Nick and Elaine's daughter, and Oliver, who took the photograph. Glyn in particular is forced to revise his mental picture and memories of Kath as he seeks out people from the past to work out if Kath had other affairs.

This was well-written, but suffered from having such a narrow topic. There were chapters from various view points with distinct narrative voices, some of which worked better than others. The novel opens with a chapter from Glyn's perspective, which was pretty boring, to be frank. I fully expected later chapters to confirm that he was universally regarded as a bore, but no - he is recalled as vibrant and interesting and in the present he seems to be a good lecturer... The chapters in Polly's voice confused me - sometimes she seemed to be speaking to her mother on the phone, but at other times it was almost as if she was being interviewed. By whom? To what end? No one was remotely likeable, with the possible exception of Mary, who only appeared at the end.

It was sad in a gentle way and so many characters lived lives of such compromise (Oliver, Elaine, Kath herself), but I needed more somehow. ( )
  pgchuis | Oct 18, 2017 |
Glyn trova per caso una busta, tra i documenti della moglie defunta, Kath, che nemmeno sapeva di avere conservato: "Non aprire". Come Alice, non sa resistere e si trova catapultato al di là dello specchio, dove scopre una vita che non è quella che credeva. Una foto ritrae una giovane Kath, con la mano intimamente intrecciata a quella del cognato, colti inavvertitamente da un fotografo sbadato.
Il racconto si dipana lungo i pensieri dei personaggi coinvolti, pensieri superficiali, che sfuggono da ogni tentativo di dar loro un senso. Se lo scopo dell'autrice era ritrarre Kath attraverso il ricordo di chi la conobbe, quello che in realtà resta è un fantasma evanescente, con il retrogusto amaro della consapevolezza che nessuno, tra quelli che dicevano di amarla, l'ha mai veramente conosciuta.
Un'agonia. ( )
  LaPizia | Aug 3, 2017 |
Amazing book, because none of the characters are particularly likeable and the entire story is based on the dead woman's photo in an envelope directing someone to destroy it without opening it. That alone compels one to read through wondering who on earth is such an idiot. Burn it if it's such a big secret. Excellent writerly craft, to prompt the reader despite the unlovely characters. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jun 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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Kath. Kath steps from the landing cupboard, where she should not be.
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Book description
The Photograph is an unflinching and unforgettable story of the many ways the past intrudes upon the present and the present alters the past. When Glyn, a landscape historian, stumbles upon a photograph of his deceased wife, Kath, holding hands with another man, his understanding of the past is "savagely underminede." Reading the past, uncovering and deciphering its strata, is his stock in trade, but now it is his own personal landscape, and the history of his marriage, that he must reinterpret. He veers from the emotional vertigo to an obsessiver need to know what kind of woman his wife really was. A taut and suspenseful psychological narrative, written in Lively's unmistakable nuance and insight, The Photograph s above all a profoundly moving meditation on the mysteries of time, and the instability of the past.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142004421, Paperback)

Man Booker Prize–winning novelist Penelope Lively’s latest masterpiece opens with a snapshot: Kath, before her death, at an unknown gathering, holding hands with a man who is not her husband. The photograph is in an envelope marked “DON’T OPEN—DESTROY.” But Kath’s husband does not heed the warning, embarking on a journey of discovery that reveals a tight web of secrets—within marriages, between sisters, and at the heart of an affair. Kath, with her mesmerizing looks and casual ways, moves like a ghost through the memories of everyone who knew her—and a portrait emerges of a woman whose life cannot be understood without plumbing the emotional depths of the people she touched.
  
Propelled by the author’s signature mastery of narrative and psychology, The Photograph is Lively at her very best, the dazzling climax to all she has written before.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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. 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.… (more)

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