Before we begin Family Pictures, we know that the story will feature two women living on opposite coasts, whose lives are mysteriously connected. We also know that they are both married to husbands who travel too much and are about to have empty nests as their children go off to college.
But then we are launched into the world of Sylvie, whose first husband died tragically early in their marriage; we meet Evie, the teenage daughter, who has some secrets. And the author gives us a peek into Sylvie’s marriage to Mark, who seems perfect on the surface. But he does travel a lot and sometimes is impossible to reach. However, he always has good explanations: forgot to charge the phone; left it behind, etc.
I had already begun to suspect what might lie ahead for these characters, but I was engrossed in Sylvie’s story, and her relationship with her cold and emotionally unavailable mother. And with Evie, whom we soon see has an eating disorder.
Then, almost suddenly, we are thrust into another world on the opposite coast, that is inexplicably revealed when Evie visits friends in NY that she met on Facebook. She goes in spite of her stepfather’s seemingly irrational fear of her spending time anywhere on the East Coast. She and her mother decide not to tell him.
Well, at this point, it starts to really glare at me. Why Mark has these fears. And what unfolds will be every woman’s worst nightmare.
Maggie, who lives in Connecticut, presents as a Stepford Wife, but when her world crashes in around her, we see her vulnerabilities, her secret past, and why control is such an important issue for her.
In the final sections, these characters lives morph into new versions and they slowly rebuild. Their discoveries about themselves and who they really are is a lovely thing to see. Yet there are still more tragedies ahead. By now, we really care about them all and want to know what will happen. I couldn’t put this book down…and while there were definitely some leaps in the plot, I loved it. Recommended for all who revel in a good novel about family, about women’s issues, and about the cost of secrets. Five stars.