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The Photograph by Penelope Lively

The Photograph (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Penelope Lively

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1,108337,473 (3.34)120
Title:The Photograph
Authors:Penelope Lively
Info:Penguin Books (2004), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Borrowed, Read but unowned
Tags:England, death, friendship, infidelity, marriage, sisters, fiction

Work details

The Photograph by Penelope Lively (2003)

  1. 00
    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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Glynn discovers a photograph of his beloved late wife in a cupboard. It is marked -destroy do not open. But open it he does and discovers he may not have known her heart at all.

This does a good job of showing each person's point of view.

But I didn't like any of the main characters. They were all to self involved. Glynn was to involved in his work. Polly cared more about how this inconvenienced her than anything else. Polly had no sympathy for her mother.

The only glimmer I saw was Elaine recognizing how a kinder sister would of reacted to a childhood incident and letting that effect her judging of a gardening contest. ( )
  nx74defiant | Apr 30, 2017 |
Penelope Lively's books are always a pleasure to read, and this is a beautifully constructed and moving novel. The emotional centre of the book is Kath, who is now dead. Her husband finds a photograph of her which reveals an affair with her brother-in-law, and the story follows the upheavals of the various protagonists as they are forced to adjust their memories and feelings, discovering that none of them really knew her ( )
  bodachliath | May 4, 2016 |
This book was based on a promising premise, but it was very narrowly developed. It could have been sweeping, full and rich, but was a shallow characterization of the main players instead. While each character felt real, none were developed beyond the initial and cursory dimension necessary for the plot. The writer used a point-of-view perspective from each character which could have been more developed and expanded beyond the short chapters. In all, I was left flat. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
the concept is what attracted me to read the novel that is dealt with expertly no wonder its Penelope Lively! Did not much care for or found interest in the seven or so people dealt with in detail, their lives explained just because they were connected in some way to the protagonist. three stars for the pleasure of the style and caliber of the author and her use of language. will read her other works ( )
  sidiki | Dec 14, 2015 |
Glyn, a historian, is rummaging through a cupboard looking for some old papers when he comes across a photograph of his wife Kath, taken about 20 years earlier. In the photo she is holding hands with another man. Glyn is shaken to the core, but unable to confront Kath because she recently passed away. Seeking the truth, he reaches out to Kath’s sister Elaine, who is also in the photo. Glyn’s discovery ultimately sends shock waves through the family and surfaces long-buried issues. The happy-go-lucky and stunningly attractive Kath’s presence is still very much present; grief is still fresh. As details of Kath’s life are revealed, everyone who loved her is forced to re-examine often seemingly trivial events now infused with new meaning.

Penelope Lively is a master at telling a story by showing how the tiniest of details can have a profound effect (for another example of this talent, I recommend How it All Began). No one’s life is as simple as it first appears, least of all Kath’s. I was fascinated by the way Lively gradually revealed connections and entanglements, and the possibility for different outcomes, had other choices been made at various points in time. ( )
3 vote lauralkeet | Aug 4, 2015 |
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Kath. Kath steps from the landing cupboard, where she should not be.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.34)
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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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