"Family Pictures" by Jane Green tells the story of two women, two women who are from opposite sides of the country, and who are also opposites in many ways: the way they dress, the way they shop, the type of lifestyle they have, and the relationship they each have with their spouse. What they have in common isn't apparent until the very end of the story.
The story begins with not only alternating points of view, labeled appropriately Sylvie or Eve (her daughter), but also with Green telling the story two different ways.
First, she does that writerly no-no of telling the reader the story instead of showing. but she alternates that with the showing -- using great dialogue to allow the reader to really get to know the characters.
Most of the chapters are told in third person narrative. The only character telling the story in first person narrative is the other protagonist, Maggie, who isn't introduced until halfway through the story.
Although Green tells the reader the back story (instead of showing), it's not off-putting. In fact, upon reflection, one realizes that there was no other way to get across the amount of information that needed to be explained before the start of the real story.
And the story is lovely. It's lovely even though it deals with betrayal, eating disorders, horrible family arguments, and greed. That's because it also deals with making friends (real friends), following dreams, and finding family.
At the end of the story, when the twists and turns are resolved, the characters' lives turned upside down and inside out -- and righted -- the reader feels satisfied. And a family is born.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader's edition provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press, for review purposes.
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