"The Photograph"

The Photograph by Penelope Lively

This is quite an original story idea and for that reason I enjoyed it. The plot revolves around Kath, who is already deceased when the story opens. Her husband, Glyn, has more or less adjusted to life without her when he comes across a photograph he has never seen before. In it, Kath is holding hands with another man, her sister's husband, Nick. Glyn is stunned by what he sees in the picture and sets out on a quest to uncover the truth: did his wife have a lover? The quest really just consists of talking to the people who were closest to Kath and asking the right questions to get at the truth.

Everybody seems to have loved Kath, mostly because she was beautiful. I don't feel I got to know enough about her other than that she was beautiful. They talk a lot about her being beautiful. It was a bit frustrating that her character wasn't delved into more deeply, but then again maybe she was meant to be just a pretty face without many other redeeming qualities. The fact that she had an affair, and the fact that she chose a silly, shallow man with whom to have it may be all we need to know.

I liked the book while I was reading it, but at the end I had that "so what?" feeling. Never a good way to end a book. I think the problem for me was that I didn't get invested in any of the characters. They were interesting enough but none of them stirred any emotion or made me root for them. It was a quick read, interesting enough for summer reading. I liked it but I didn't love it.


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