‘The Photograph’ by Penelope Lively


Fiction – paperback; Penguin; 236 pages; 2004.

Glyn Peters, a landscape historian in his early 60s, discovers a photograph of his dead wife, the beautiful, carefree Kath, which turns his life upside down. The photo shows Kath holding hands with another man. Glyn is immediately consumed with rage, which is later tempered by obsession. Why had Kath behaved like this? Had she slept around? Who else knew about the affair?

As Glyn sets about digging up the past, delving into the personal life of the woman he married, he begins to realise how little he knew about her. Who was this woman he had shared his life with?

Penelope Lively’s The Photograph is fast-paced and suspenseful. It explores the notions of love, fidelity, grief and the relationship between history and personal memory. The characters are well drawn and believable, and the plot is littered with enough twists and turns to keep the reader intrigued throughout.

While it is no literary masterpiece, it’s a relatively simple story well told, and I enjoyed every minute of it.


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