The Photograph

The Photograph

Book - 2003
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 Photographbrings 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.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2003
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780670032051
Branch Call Number: FICTION LIV
Characteristics: 231 p. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WVML

To Top