Book Reviews of The Photograph

The Photograph
The Photograph
Author: Penelope Lively
ISBN-13: 9780670032051
ISBN-10: 0670032050
Pages: 240
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.

3.2 stars, based on 11 ratings
Publisher: Viking Adult
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

39 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Photograph on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
The characters in this book were very well developed, but that's really the only positive thing I have to say. I had previously read Penelope Lively's book 'Consequences' and enjoyed it, so I decided to read some of her other books. This one sounded interesting, but I found it slow, boring, and not worth my time.
reviewed The Photograph on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
THis book will stay with me for awhile I'm sure. I loved it. As it unfolds much is learned by those in the photograph and the person who took it. It's a lesson in "why didn't I pay more attention at the time". I will be seeking out many more of Ms. Lively's books.
reviewed The Photograph on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Ever wonder what the people you love do when you're not around? This book examines this issue using the vehicle of a photograph. The author uses the word "feckless" alot. British Author.
reviewed The Photograph on + 334 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Extremely well written novel, and I was captivated throughout by the way the characters were all portrayed as interconnected. I can't say enough about Penelope Lively's writing - it is pure, intelligent literature, and at the same time entertaining and thought-provoking.
reviewed The Photograph on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I didn't love this book. I found it to drag on and be a little slow. I enjoyed the last 4 chapters the most - they kept my attention.
reviewed The Photograph on
Helpful Score: 5
Terrific story. Well written. Characters were richly drawn and stayed with me for quite awhile after I finished the book. Highly recommended.
reviewed The Photograph on + 106 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I found this book so boring! The premise was so intriguing, but I found myself avoiding reading time because I couldn't face returning to this book. I can deal with self-absorbed characters, but only if the story is moving along.
reviewed The Photograph on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Throughout the book, I kept wanting to tell the main character 'just stop it, would you'.
reviewed The Photograph on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this whole book, but I am really not sure why I put myself through it! It's really kind of boring, but I like to finish what I start and so I did.
reviewed The Photograph on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This audio book was great. I was not expecting the ending which is always good. The writing is beautiful. I loved how deep the author went into the characters thought process. The narrators were the perfect fit too. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Lively's work.
reviewed The Photograph on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed this "Today's" book club selection. It takes place in contemporary England and was my first Penelope Lively read. Very good story...
reviewed The Photograph on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I found this book to be difficult. Too much ruminating over the past. There was a surprise at the end which did make it have some redeeming quality. I just couldn't identify very well.
reviewed The Photograph on
Helpful Score: 2
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was engaging and hard to put down.
reviewed The Photograph on + 81 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was disappointed. Good story but I don't really care for this author's style of writing.
reviewed The Photograph on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The character sketches in this novel are fabulous. Lively draws a picture of each character in such a way that it seems you are reading about people you might know.

The plot goes basically like this: Man finds picture of his deceased wife that might mean she had an affair. Man seeks to discover his wife's true character using the approach of the historian he is.

The plot is a slow moving one. There are no car chases or real excitement and dialogue is minimal. The approach is an interesting one, as each layer of the story is told through conversations and relationships with people who knew the deceased wife.

The moral of the story will certainly make you consider how well you know those around you. Is he capable of this, Did she really go through that, etc etc etc.
reviewed The Photograph on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A good easy read. not the most memorable i've ready, but definitely enjoyable.
reviewed The Photograph on + 72 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A very suspenseful and gripping book. You will like it.
reviewed The Photograph on + 289 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Photograph is deftly written but depressing. Glyn discovers an envelope marked "DON'T OPEN–DESTROY" in which there is a photograph of his deceased wife Kath holding hands with another man. Glyn pursues this mystery like the academic landscape historian he is. The reader learns about Kath, an enchantingly attractive woman along the way, through the memories of Glyn, her sister Elaine and her family. Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively has interesting points to make about memory, beauty, love, and life through well-worded passages, but the effect is haunting. There is very little character interaction as each person tries to reconcile what they knew now and then about Kath and the story winds through various perspectives. This is a book I admired more for form than content because it was so sad.
reviewed The Photograph on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A lovely book about how physical beauty can skewer and dictate a life to the point where those who think they know and love you the best may be surprised at what secrets lay deep inside. The death of the protagonist and the discovery of a mysterious photograph lead her husband and friends to not only question who their friend/lover really was, but who they were as well.
reviewed The Photograph on + 72 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting book. A quick read but pretty in depth characters.
reviewed The Photograph on + 70 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great story of how people saw and understood a character, after she is gone. Well written. Good read! susan
reviewed The Photograph on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is one of those audiobooks that does such a terrific job of depicting each character that you can find someone very similiar in your life and follow the story with a sense familiarity. I enjoyed it and was intrigued to listen to the end. I have to say the author really gives you a look into the main subjects soul - to the point where you wish you could meet her.
reviewed The Photograph on + 66 more book reviews
An interesting book, but a little tough to read. CK
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reviewed The Photograph on + 131 more book reviews
Looking through cupboards, Glyn finds an envelope with the words "Don't Open - Destroy" written on it by his wife, Kath. Consumed by curiosity, he opens the envelope to find a photograph showing Kath holding hands with another man. This one act of betrayal, concealed for many years, obsesses Glyn as he tries to get to the root of Kath's infidelity. Very well written, told from several different viewpoints, I found it hard to put down.
reviewed The Photograph on + 108 more book reviews
I felt like I was reading the author's character sketches for a book, not a finished novel. Lively gives us many points of view to her central story, which apparently took place fifteen years in the book's past. But each character is a one-dimensional type who doesn't do or reveal anything surprising. And, except for the dead woman, they are all tedious people, which is my charitable explanation for the annoying prose in which this book is written.

The story is that the main character, a dry, ageing academic named Glyn, discovers a photograph which reveals that his now-dead wife had an affair with another man before she died. It's clear from how the characters avoid discussing her death directly that she died either by murder or by suicide, and we can rule out murder because there's no intrigue about it. So Glyn goes on what the book describes as an "obsessive quest" (but really just feels like more academic research) to find out if his wife had other affairs, and in the process, he learns that he didn't know her very well and that she was unhappy. His quest doesn't change him as a person, just as none of the other characters learns anything from being dragged into Glyn's research project with him. Then the book ends with anticlimactic revelations about how the characters each experienced the dead wife's last day and *gasp* we find out that she did indeed commit suicide. Glyn decides that he "has to find a new way of living with Kath, or rather a new way of living with a new Kath." But as a reader, I was left with serious doubts about whether Glyn was going to find a new way of doing anything, ever.
reviewed The Photograph on + 368 more book reviews
Glyn is a widower who unexpectedly finds a photograph of his deceased wife, Kath, with a group of people. This leads to alterations in relationships, recriminations and adjustments in values. Each chapter is told from the perspective of those thought to be closest to Kath, which gives us a gradually evolving view. Penelope Lively is at her best in revealing the essence of her characters in a thoughtful, subtle way. As with all of her books, this one leads to thought-provoking questions.
reviewed The Photograph on + 86 more book reviews
This book is beautifully written, but I found myself skimming some parts as it seemed to drag out. A man finds a photograph of his late wife holding hands with her sister's husband, as well as a somewhat incriminating note from one to the other, confirming they were intimately involved (although, you never learn exactly what was in the note). The story is interesting, as you watch the husband research his wife's past - where there others? - as well as scrutinize his own memories of her and their marriage. As other characters - the sister, her husband, the friend who took the photograph - all learn of its existence, they all look back on their lives in a different way.

Not a bad book, but I just wasn't wowed by it.
reviewed The Photograph on + 45 more book reviews
A husband finds a photograph of his wife holding hands with another man. The author then deconstructs the story into layers explaining the where and why .Great book
reviewed The Photograph on + 71 more book reviews
This was a very different book. Her characters are interesting and the story is a quick read. In some ways, it is written rather in an old fashioned way
reviewed The Photograph on + 432 more book reviews
THE PHOTOGRAPH by Penelope Lively was the January 2014 pick in my neighborhood book club.

Clearly the author was in love with Kath. Kath, Kath, Kath. 50 Shades of Kath. Unfortunately I was NOT in love with her. So getting through this (for the love of book club) sucked mightily. :)

Here's what happened: A decade after Kath's death, her husband Glyn finds a picture that reveals she'd been having an affair with her brother-in-law, which is naturally a great premise, but the execution left much to be desired. We end up getting Kath, Kath, Kath! From everybody but the local milkman's perspective!

That being said, my main issue with this story was the rambling nature of the narrative. Boring forays into the past would stop a scene dead in its tracks, making a 230-page book feel like 530, with each character thinking almost exactly alike.

And so in the end, the premise fell dreadfully flat, with the whole boring story being hollow, dull and pointless. The end. (D)
reviewed The Photograph on + 115 more book reviews
Another delightful, thought-provking story from Penelope Lively. Story starts out a little slow, and had me asking so many questions: Why is Nick so disorganized for an academic? Why was this envelope buried in his stacks of papers for so many years? Why did Kath leave it instead of destroying it?
All of these questions lead me to read on. Lively's story telling does that to you, having you turn page after page to allow her story to unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though other reviewers found it too slow and/or boring. If you enjoy descriptive phrases, if you enjoy the mystery of why people do things in life, you will enjoy this novel.
reviewed The Photograph on + 45 more book reviews
The opposite of "Lively" could be the word "droll." (no pun intended) The latter is an apt one word description of "The Photograph." The first time I tried to listen to this audiobook, I made it through the first CD and stopped. I laid that off to my mood and would try it again in better days. Well, the second time around, I made it half-way through the third CD until I finally decided there was not one redeeming statement I could make about this turkey of a book.

Take two gifted British readers and ask them to read a depressing mood piece filled with regrets, secrets, denials and recriminations that amount to personal reflections on the life of a deceased woman, and you too will want to hold a gun to your head, metaphorically, of course , as you keep wondering when or whether things might look up (As of CD 3, they don't). The characters, who each in their turn revisit their recollections of their roles in the life of the aforesaid dead woman, all seem to be drifting through life since her passing. All things considered, I'd say she got the best end of the deal as you come to know and understand those who were connected to her life.

But this is my take on this awful book. Maybe your endurance is greater than mine.
reviewed The Photograph on + 37 more book reviews
Following Kath's death, her husband finds an envelope marked DON'T OPEN. In it is a photograph of her with her hands clasped with a man, not her husband. The mystery of her recent death and the photograph propels him into a journey of discovery in which he must peel back layers of their lives, revealing a tight web of secrets with everyone who knew her. Great Read!
reviewed The Photograph on + 56 more book reviews
I can not in good conscience, recommend this book. It was so boring that I could not finish it. I kept thinking it would get better, finally on page 72, I gave up.
reviewed The Photograph on + 384 more book reviews
this very original British book starts with a mystery of a snapshot with the warning not to open but to destroy. But of course that is just too delicious to think one would do that...not open it. it is a photo of a man's dead wife in a hand embrace with someone she should not be...thus starts the sjourney to find out what he did and did not know about his late wife. it is a good and fast read!
reviewed The Photograph on + 2 more book reviews
The wife died. Years later her husband finds a picture which leads him to find out much more about her.
reviewed The Photograph on + 137 more book reviews
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 secretswithin 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.
reviewed The Photograph on + 38 more book reviews
The photograph is in an envelope marked DON'T OPEN - DESTROY. But Kath's husband does not heed the warning. the mystery of the photograph, and of Kath's recent death, propels him on a journey of discovery in which he must peel back layers of their lives. the unfolding tale reveals a tight web of secrets - within marriages, between two sisters, and at the heart of an affair.