Jane Green is a master of women’s fiction, tackling subjects women understand and often relate to. Family Pictures is another entertaining novel about women with complicated lives and relationships.
Sylvie thought the worst thing to ever happen to her was the loss of her husband, Jonathan, leaving her and her daughter Eve alone. But 10 years later, Sylvie has remarried and moved to California, living a content life with her husband, who travels frequently for business. Sylvie’s life is far from perfect, as she worries about Eve who has grown painfully thin, and must also deal with her mother’s frequent and confused phone calls. Sylvie trusts Mark, but she can’t shake the feeling that he’s not completely faithful to her.
Across the country, Maggie lives a life of luxury, throwing garden parties and juggling her social calendar while ignoring her 3 children. Keeping up appearances and spending her husband’s money take up most of her time, but she resents him for spending so much time out of town.
When Eve travels to NY and meets Grace, Maggie’s daughter, they discover a secret that will change all of their lives.
The first half of the book is told mostly from Sylvie’s point of view, with Eve’s thrown in on occasion. The second half switches between Sylvie, in third person, and Maggie, in first person, which occasionally was a bit confusing, with the occasional chapter from Eve and oddly, Buck, Maggie’s 14 year old son, a surprisingly well-adjusted and sweet boy. While the discovery is not a good one, the results eventually have a positive effect on the women — to say much more would give away too much about the reveal, however, the twist itself isn’t altogether surprising.
Notes on the audiobook: Often when a narrator reads a multi-point of view story, it can be difficult to discern which character has the focus. In this case, the narrator does a wonderful job of keeping the women’s voices separate. In the case of Maggie, I noticed a subtle change in her voice as she grows throughout the story. The teenage girls were perfectly executed as well, not an easy feat.