"In this haunting new novel, the act of forgetting is as strange and interesting as the power of remembering." —The New York Times Book Review
Look out for Penelope Lively’s new book, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories.
Penelope Lively is renowned for her signature combination of silken storytelling and nuanced human insights. In Family Album, lively masterfully peels back one family's perfect façade to reveal the unsettling truths.
All Alison ever wanted was to provide her six children with a blissful childhood. Its creation, however, became an obsession that involved Ingrid, the family au pair. As adults, Paul, Gina, Sandra, Katie, Roger, and Clare return to their family home and as mysteries begin to unravel, each must confront how the consequences of long-held secrets have shaped their lives.
Employing her trademark skill at honing detail and dialogue, Lively (Moon Tiger) delivers a vigorous new novel revolving around a house outside of London, the sprawling Edwardian homestead of Allersmead, and the family of six children who grew up there. By degrees in shifting POVs and time periods cutting from the 1970s until the present Lively introduces the prodigious Harper family. There's Alison, the frazzled matriarch, who married young and pregnant, and persuaded her historian husband to buy Allersmead; distracted father Charles, who writes recherch tomes in his study and can't remember what ages his children are; and the children, who range from the wayward eldest and mother's favorite, Paul, to the youngest, Clare, whose parentage involves a family secret concerning Ingrid, the Scandinavian au pair. Lively adeptly focuses on the second-oldest, Gina, a foreign journalist who planned her life to stay far away from home until, at age 39, fellow journalist Philip goads her to contemplate settling down for the first time. With its bountiful characters and exhaustive time traveling, Lively's vivisection of a nuclear family displays polished writing and fine character delineation.