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The Girl in the Photo

The Girl in the Photo [Kindle Edition]

Wally Wood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

In this novel about love and longing, regret and renewal, a brother and sister discover a surprising secret after the death of their father: a photo of a young woman who was his lover decades before and half a world away. Even as they mourn their father, an eminent surgeon, David and Abbie question what they thought they knew about his life—and theirs—as they struggle with conflicting memories, unexpected emotions, and new possibilities.

About the Author

Wally Wood is the author 19 business books and Getting Oriented: A Novel About Japan. He is a graduate of the City University of New York with a MA in creative writing. He has taught writing in state prisons and to middle-school students. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Marian. For more about the writing life as well as a book club discussion guide, please visit his blog at:

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EBCE306
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,032,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of potential but didn't quite work for me 19 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had very mixed feelings about The Girl in the Photo, by Wally Wood. In the end I think four stars is about right - for all my many misgivings I did want to find out how things ended, and the changes of scene and character development moved things along at a reasonable pace.

I had originally expected there to be a greater proportion of the story set in the past, but in fact the vast majority is contemporary, with just a few chapters relating events during the Korean War. Some people might well enjoy this mix, but I realised yet again that books set in today's world don't really grip me. There were quite a lot of casual references to American culture which for me were obscure and unexplained.

The story itself seems very derivative - without giving too much away, the plot seems far too much like The Bridges of Madison County, with a heavy dollop of Madame Butterfly. In part my quick reading through to the end was to see if the ending matched either of those sources. But repeatedly through the book I felt that there was too much similarity to other material.

The plot dwells a great deal on sibling dynamics, as well as wider family interactions revolving around the central brother-sister pair. Most of these carry conviction, and the central characters have a good blend of likeable and dislikable traits. Unexpected windows are sometimes opened into one or other person's behaviour and attitudes. The story perspective switches quite often between several voices. That works quite well. I was not wholly persuaded, though, by the Japanese portion towards the end. It was clear that Wally had considered a range of possible options, but the final choice seemed to me to be rather rushed, skating rapidly over what was potentially the most complex and difficult encounter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we really know our parents? 30 Jun 2014
By Norm Goldman - Published on
Wally Wood's recent novel, The Girl in the Photo explores the consequences when a son and a daughter discover, after their father's death, that prior to his marriage to their mother, he had been in love with a Japanese woman while being stationed in Japan during the Korean war as an Army surgeon between 1952 and 1954.

With his masterful ability to weave a carefully structured and engaging plot, Wood narrates the story of a young American surgeon, Dr. Robert David Emmerling who was deeply in love with Masami Takeda and lived with her in a house in Sagami-shi. This comes as quite a shock to his two children, Abbie and David who accidentally get wind of their father's memoir which had been saved on his computer concerning his love relationship with Masami. Upon further going through their father's belongings, they also find a letter and a picture pertaining to this relationship. Their mother, Carolyn, had predeceased their father by several years and at no time did their father ever reveal to them his intimate connection with this Japanese woman.

And that is just the beginning, as Abbie and David further probe into their father's secret life, they learn that he had impregnated Masami prior to his return to the USA. To their astonishment they now discover they have a either a half brother or sister. This was a whole different father then the one they knew while growing up-one that was once passionate and caught up in a different world. The question foremost on their minds was if the memoir was in fact true or was it just a work of fiction- a figment of their father's imagination? If it were true, why didn't their father marry Masami and why did he abandoned her? Did their father really want them to know after his death about this secret life? Furthermore, if they did have a half brother or sister, would they want to meet with him or her? It was like a huge jigsaw puzzle. It was as if they really didn't know their father as they attempt to fit all of the pieces together.

The beauty of this novel is that readers will compulsively turn pages as each chapter is brimming with small details that resonate with meaning making it quite easy to visualize. Furthermore, with its convincing and down-to-earth dialogue, I can say without reserve that it resembles watching a movie. The characters of Abbie and David are very carefully drawn, and as it turns out, they not only unearth something mind-blowing concerning their father, but they also learn the best and worst in themselves, while at the same time gaining an insight into their complex relationship to each other and their father. Although The Girl in the Photo may be a work of fiction, it does raise an interesting question, do we really know our parents before they became our parents? Have we ever really dug into their past to find out who else they are or have been? Could it be that we are afraid to find out and that we really prefer to know them as boring and straightforward parents rather than being multifaceted?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 28 Jun 2014
By Brenda Murray - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brother and sister learn how little they really knew about their father, and learn about each other along the way. 12 Jan 2014
By Charles J. Kravetz - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This review is for the Kindle edition ebook.

Disclosure: I was offered my copy of this book by the author as a review copy.

A single photo sometimes leads to mystery and love, especially when a parent passes from this life.

A brother and sister discover a photo of a young women when their father passes away. They also discover a memoir on their father's computer. They have never heard anything about this part of their fathers life, and investigations lead to an interesting journey to Japan.

The author of this book did an excellent job with the emotions and conflicts that become visible when a close family member dies. Memories are seldom exact between siblings, and often are very diverse. The idea that a father could have had a life before the children and never discussed it with them gives the reader room to wonder if this isn't reality.

Wally Wood wanted to bring to life the woman in a photo and the interactions of the family in this novel. He succeeded well in this endeavor. Life is a balance between each person in the family, and each person has different memories of each event. For some, an event seen as very important by one sibling is almost forgotten by another. This interaction between siblings is presented well in this story.

I really enjoyed this book and would easily recommend it to brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons. It would be a great read for adults and teens alike.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy Reading 1 Nov 2013
By Guylan W. Paul - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Girl in the Photo by Wallis E Wood, Copyright 2013, Book Review
This book is a gem for readers who like books that are not filled with offensive language, excessive sex, or brutality. The Girl in the Photo begins with an ordinary focus on the contrasting ways a brother and sister view their father’s death and the necessary decisions regarding the settlement of Dr. Robert David Emerlings’s estate.
The book soon escalates into a page turner because each somewhat flawed character is one the reader can easily imagine, relate to, and begin to hope for the best outcome for their lives.
Dr. Emerling was a young Army surgeon serving in a Japanese hospital during the Korean War. The author is well acquainted with Japan and the Japanese language. The settings are believable. The reader will always remember the beauty of a Japanese cherry blossom festival, almost cry when the doctor’s tour of duty ends, and feel the tensions that surface decades later in a daughter who cherishes her faith and a son who has abandoned his faith as they plan a memorial service for their father.
The Girl in the Photo is basically written from four points of view. Wood clearly alternates chapters that reveal Emerling’s emotional scars and those of his children caused by the relationships each had with him, and one another.
Neighbors and old friends of the father help solve a mystery related to a book the father was writing and had left on his computer. The novel tells a “fictional” story of a love affair of an American doctor and a loyal young Japanese woman.
There are enough unexpected twists and turns in the lives of the characters that the reader is often startled and left reading late into the night when they had expected to turn out the light much sooner.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Read 30 Oct 2013
By Tina Chan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Title: The Girl in the Photo

Author: Wally Wood

Genre: fiction/historical fiction


​The Girl in the Photo, written by Wally Wood, is part fiction, part historical
​fiction. The novel is told from the point of view of three characters: Abbie,
​David, and Dr. Emmerling. The story opens with Abbie getting an urgent
phone call informing her Dr. Emmerling, Abbie's father, had died. After
​recovering from the initial shock, she calls her younger brother to inform him of this tragic news.

As David and Abbie meet together at Dr. Emmerling's old estate to take care of wills, obituaries and such. There is quite palpable tension between the two siblings. Abbie always feels as if she is the person bearing all the burden and responsibilities. David feels as if Abbie has not changed from her "older bossy sister" attitude towards him even after 50+ years. Quite a bit of background information about these two characters were provided at the beginning of this book. In short, progress and action was slow the first 25% of the book. Fortunately, the writing was mostly "showing not telling", which made reading it tenfold more enjoyable had Wally taken on a "telling not showing" writing approach.

​The action really starts to pick up when David finds a memoir left on his father's computer. Titled "Mt. Koya", Dr. Emmerling recalls a life he has never talked about with his two children. A surgeon for the army during World War I, Dr. Emmerling had been stationed in Japan. I loved reading about his life in was definitely the most interesting part of the novel. As a reader, I got to be exposed to the Japanese culture of the period, which I found fascinating.

​Personally, I felt that there were some unneeded chapters in the middle of the book. For example, I would much rather read about "Mt. Koya" than Abbie trying to write an obituary for her father. Also, the switching from past to present tense somewhat interrupts the flow of my reading. I want to be immersed into Dr. Emmerling's autobiography--I want to become emotionally attached to young Dr. Emmerling and Masami (his lover). In other words, I would've loved it if the "Mt. Koya" section of the novel was longer.

Wally Wood sure threw in a curve ball for me when I read the ending of "Mt. Koya." I couldn't believe what had just happened (**trying not to spoil anything**) so I was relieved when I found out that Dr. Emmerling hadn't told the whole truth in the memoir. To quickly sum things up, David and Abbie find out Masami is alive in Japan and that they have a half sister. The siblings decide to travel to Japan to meet their recently discovered family members.

Most emotional part of the book: When Abbie and David inform Masami that Dr. Emmerling is dead. I think my eyes might have teared up when Masami replies one of her greatest wish was to see him one last time before she passed on (she's probably in her 80's or 90's.) The love Masami felt for Dr. Emmerling was so intense and legit that I truly wanted Masami to have a happy life.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a tad slow moving in the beginning, but it helped set up the scene and characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read some light romance, a story that deals with life and death and if you're interested in Japan during World War I.

*Mt. Koya memoir was very well written
​ *surprise twist near the end

*how it flipped from past to present then to past then to present again

***a copy was given in exchange for an honest review***
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