Review by JJ Marsh
What We Thought:
A wonderful tale of a son re-evaluating everything he thought he knew about his mother.
Two lives: Lottie Pye, growing up in Edwardian Brighton, and her son, James, who faces a lonely old age. Until he takes delivery of his mother’s legacy – her photographs – and with the help of young Jenny, begins to make a new picture from the jigsaw of images.
Along with James, we discover Lottie via perceptions of the woman, the wife, the photographer, the image. And as if by accident, he discovers much more about himself. This delicately paced book allows individual stories to unfold and reflect on one another, challenging the reader to decide on a definite reality.
This novel has charm in abundance, due to its acutely observed settings and period detail, intriguing characters who do not give up their secrets easily, and a glorious level of background detail. I love books that teach me something, and the insights into photography here are a delight.
This is a book you resent having to put down.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Tracy Chevalier, Audrey Niffenegger, The Lives of Lee Miller
Avoid if you dislike: Edwardian England, gentle pace, family history
Ideal accompaniments: Earl Grey, buttered English muffins and Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In.