Top critical review
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Sensitive story but not her best
on 24 January 2012
It was only relatively recently when I discovered Moon Tiger that I realised how good Penelope Lively's writing is. Moon Tiger immediately joined my favourites of all times and I have since been reading her other books. The Photograph isn't quite up to the same standard, but then, Moon Tiger is exceptional in my view.
The eponymous photograph has lain buried in a cupboard since before Glyn Peters' wife Kath died 10 years ago. Glyn discovers it by chance while searching for some offprints. It is concealed in an envelope in a cupboard where it should not have been, and bears the enjoinder not to open it but to destroy it. Human nature being what is it, Glyn ignores the warning, and his life and his perceptions of Kath and of their relationship are changed forever.
As he becomes obsessed with discovering more about the act of betrayal that has been revealed to him, Glyn pursues the truth, tracking down those who knew Kath at the time, or who might have known her. Slowly, Kath's story is pieced together through the eyes of her sister Elaine, her brother-in-law Nick, her niece Polly, who adored her, and various associates who Glyn suspects might have an inkling of what happened all those years ago. But at what cost?
Penelope Lively writes so sensitively and intelligently about the issues that are closest to people's hearts that her books are a joy to read. Even so, this one, although I'd recommend it, is not in my view one of her best.