The Photograph by Penelope Lively

About the book

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.

Reviewed by  Petersfield U3A group 1 Reading Group:

Unanimously enjoyed. The finding of the photograph led to the unravelling of various relationships and we thought that the insight into the characters was excellent.

Star rating: ****

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7 thoughts on “The Photograph by Penelope Lively”

  1. Review by Petersfield U3A Book Circle:
    Very well written, tedious people well portrayed. Elaine’s gardening knowledge etc much enjoyed. Clever development at the end evoking much sympathy for Kath.
    Star rating: ***


  2. Review by Keyhaven Yacht Club Ladies:
    A good light easy read; some thought the character less than convincing.
    Star rating: *


  3. Review by Solent U3A reading group:
    In the main the group liked the writing of this book, but were critical of the rather weak plot. Most did not really enjoy it though all wanted to reach the end in order to discover the explanation of the main characters death.
    Star rating: **


  4. Review by Museum Book Group:
    None of the group liked reading this book but it is extremely good for discussion. The characters were cold and mainly shallow. Kath the dead woman seen holding hands with a man in the photograph. She is not known by her husband, sister and friends.
    Star rating: **


  5. Review by Enjoying Books Reading Group:
    Concise, beautiful prose, superb piece of literature. Very cleverly crafted with excellent use of verses.
    Star rating: ***+


  6. Review by Dogmersfield Reading Group:
    Readable, well crafted and well written. Enjoyed the way the characters evolved and the gradual re-evaluaition of relationships.
    Star rating: **+


  7. Review by Basingstoke Tuesday Afternoon Group
    Excellent read – characters well constructed. Lots to talk about.
    Star rating ****


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