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This is a story of two wives who have to share the shock and grief of learning something that unexpectedly impacts both their lives and that of their families. At first I wasn't very sure I liked the book, thought I had stumbled into some lightweight Chick Lit (and I still think it leans that way), but eventually I became engrossed in listening to the story, feeling I had to hear how it all worked itself out.
Although there is this secret that dominates the book, it is far from what I found most compelling. On several levels and generations there were mother-daughter stories that stretched throughout the book (and even, briefly, a mother-son one). Also the relationships among women as friends (or not friends) dominated much of it as well. Oddly, I found the "secret" that ties the two families together to have been less powerful than the individual portraits (the "family pictures" that give the book it's title, even though it also refers to a specific key incident within the story) to have been what made it worth listening to.
For reasons I did not understand, everything about Sylvie and her family life was told in third person, while Maggie's world was all described in first person. Maggie was the more self-absorbed of the two, while Sylvie was more concerned with others, so it could have been that, or it could simply have been a means of pointing to which woman was being focused upon at different times in the book.
I almost gave this story fewer stars based on what seemed to me to have been way too many and too blatant sex conversations between characters at various times. Either I'm so old that I'm out of touch with what younger people talk about, or else this was just inserted to make the book "hot enough" to appeal to some people. Whichever, it detracted from the story so much I almost put this book down several times. The author needed to decide if this was a steamy romance novel, or a serious book that explored the lives and emotions and psychological dynamics of people living their lives together. I decided in the end that the author's intent was to present an otherwise good and well-woven story of how people met and coped with a tragedy that affected two families, and must have felt some need, which somehow escaped me, to have inserted women having lurid conversations about sex here and there to give it an (unneeded) extra punch. Since the story was intriguing regardless, I recommend the book!
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
I wanted to enjoy this book based on the reviews but I can't listen to the narrator any longer... It's like she speaks in a series of giggles... Even the parts that should have a more serious tone are tinged with her flirty sing-songy voice. People don't talk like this. I picture her in the sound booth with little cartoon bluebirds fluttering around her and sitting on her shoulder.
What was most disappointing about Jane Green’s story?
How could the performance have been better?
5 of 5 people found this review helpful