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Family Pictures
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2013
Last night I finished, "Family Pictures," by Jane Green. Jane, Jane, Jane, what can I say? That she has lost her touch? That she has dumbed herself down, that this was the most contrived and predictable book I have read, perhaps ever? I CAN say those things, and I am saying them, and YET, I enjoyed the book! It was light, fun, lured me into its predictable web and didn't let me go until I finished.
Green's earliest books continue to be the best of her work. Family Pictures is an improvement over her last novel, which was simply horrible, ("Another Piece of My Heart") but it was barely a step above a Danielle Steel novel. Green is a good writer, technically, but her plot was ridiculously farfetched, with one coincidence after another, none of which were plausible. Still, I kept reading, hoping for a shock or turn of events. The last few pages were the most ridiculous of all. However, I finished the novel knowing I enjoyed the few days I spent inside its pages. How is that for a paradoxical review?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2013
SPOILERS: I wanted to love this book! I am a huge Jane Green fan and was excited to sit down with this book! I will say, I finished the book and I didn't hate it, but the ending was just too perfect and unrealistic. I do love a happy ending, but I like for the books I read to be true to life. There are two main characters: Sylvie and Maggie, who both discover they are married to the same man. These women live across the country from each other so there is just really no chance that Sylvie's daughter would go on a trip to New York and just happen to meet and hit it off with her dad's secret family daughter. That was so unbelievable but the story kept my attention, and I really enjoyed the characters and how there were all so different from each other. When I finished the book I was just disappointed at how extremely perfect Sylvie and Maggie and their kids all ended up. They weren't just happy, doing their best and achieving their goals. They became one big, rich, happy family. Sylvie made homemade candles and instantly has an empire! Maggie is in love with her rich landlord's son, of course. And her landlords become the family she always wanted. Sylvie's severely anorexically ill daughter is all better and even in love with her stepdad's son! Maggie and Sylvie aren't just close, they are like sisters now. I just wanted to see the characters get through this with strength and for it to be more realistic, instead of the fairy tale ending. I would still recommend reading this, though. It was fun and held my interest.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 29, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I literally did a happy dance when I saw this novel offered to me from Amazon Vine. I adore Jane Green and while her novels as of late have turned a darker corner than her earlier works, I still enjoy her writing and works (save for A Walk in the Park, oy). I still have a huge soft spot in my heart for Bookends, which will always been one of my favorites. I varied between a 3 and 4 star for this book but ended at a 3.

Family Pictures is a fast-paced read. I was able to finish it in less than a day. However, much of this is because you know how this book is going to unfold, or at least most people will be able to figure it out. So the first half of the novel, you are skimming and waiting to see how things unfold. Once they do, they do and it continues to go the way you mostly expect it to. Not much surprised me in the book and while I'm not always expecting a whodunit or crazy plot twist, it was borderline boring to read a book that was this predictable.

I also felt that there was a lot of unnecessary bits to this novel, especially Buck's chapter (the point of that was....?). I'm still questioning the point of George and I still don't quite know where in the heck he came from. There's a few things like this that really don't relate much to the story and I'm not used to this from Jane's novels.

In the end though, it was a quick and decent read. I won't be raving to everyone about it, but it's not a novel I would caution one against reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This book is published in the US under the title "Family Pictures.

I was torn between giving this book 3 stars and 4 stars. On the one hand, it's fairly predictable, the characters are not terribly compelling, it hinges on an enormous and very unlikely coincidence and the ending is saccarine sweet. On the other hand, it's immensely readable - I devoured it in one sitting - and despite its flaws, it has a genuine charm.

The story is about two women living on opposite sides of the US (Sylvie and Maggie) who lead quite different lives but will get to know one another over the course of the book. The connection between them is pretty easy to guess from the outset, although it is meant to come as a surprise. Sylvie is the more likeable character initially although she's a little...wet. Maggie is highly status conscious and pretty shallow, although she develops depth as the novel proceeds. They both have teenage daughters who have struggles of their own and husbands who travel a lot for work and may or may not be unfaithful to them. The theme of the book is really about picking yourself up after your world falls apart and finding yourself in the second act of your life.

Look, it's not a great book, but as I say it's very readable and I liked it more than I would have expected. The sub-plot which deals with a teenager's eating disorder is well done and I liked the way that both women developed friendships to sustain them. If you're after something light and easy to read, you could do far worse.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2013
i have not finished this book yet. It is so boring - two plot lines; Eve's bulimia and the two families/one father storyline. So glad I didn't buy it, thank goodness for the library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
Jane Green's latest has the makings of a great novel but somehow falls short due to a beginning that is too slow and a storyline whose direction is far too obvious .

Two women, technically strangers living on opposite coasts discover each other's existence through a horrible family
secret. As the realities of their situations come to light, they journey through their own self discoveries and learn who they really are. Maybe its because this plotline has been done many times before but the book just seemed like another Hallmark movie of the week.

It was hard not to get bored by Sylvie's story which appears first. We later meet Maggie the second protagonist, in part two, which is more than twenty chapters into the story. This is where the story finally picks up but as I've mentioned, we are already well aware of what is happening and where this story is going. There are no surprises and the book could definitely have used a few. The most promising aspects were the lessons learned by these two women after their shared trauma, especially Maggie who made the most dramatic transformation and the outcome of Sylvie's daughter's illness.

There were promising moments along the way, the evolution of Maggie's character being one of them as well as the look into her affluent lifestyle and the horrendous women she at first surrounds herself with. The final resolution seemed satisfying though overly packaged and had a definite give-the-people-what-they-want vibe. Not a great piece of literature but a quick and easy beach read. It should fit the bill of what to read on summer vacation nicely.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2013
Firstly I'd like to thank Penguin UK for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.

Part one began with Sylvie, it detailed her life in a very powerful way and this meant that I quickly felt close to her character. From reading the blurb I had a good idea where the storyline was headed so when Sylvie was describing Mark as a wonderful, faithful husband I admit that I felt a bit sceptical.

Sylvie's daughter Eve had some serious issues going on and I thought the author had written this particularly well because she made me feel desperately sad for the troubled teenager - I just wanted to reach into the book and give her a hug! Eve played a big part in the story and it was when she took a trip to New York that everything got really complicated, this turned out to be the beginning of a whole new chapter for everyone concerned.

Next I was introduced to Maggie and again I found her to be a likeable character, when the mayhem began I was on the edge of my seat wondering how she was going to cope with the life that faced her. I was fascinated by the whole idea and simply couldn't imagine how a person would feel after receiving news of that nature.

The aftermath was a difficult time for everyone and outlined perfectly how one persons actions can have such a devastating effect on so many lives. I must confess that following the characters as they attempted to rebuild their lives was my favourite part of the book because it was just so inspiring!

Although I had pretty much predicted the direction of the storyline before I had even started the book I still somehow found myself glued to the pages, I just couldn't put it down. I admired the way that the author dealt with difficult subjects, particularly the eating disorder - it was shocking to read but a very important part of the story in my opinion and it really opened my eyes to the illness.

This was an engaging book with well written characters who were easy to connect with, I will definitely be reading more from this author.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I first 'met' Jane Green via her breakthrough novel, the witty Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans, and continued to relish her next several books, notably Bookends: A Novel. But since she has shifted her focus from pure chick lit to the world of the 'Aga Saga' (books featuring women in their 40s dealing with problems with children, husbands and parents), Green has lost her edge and retreated into a soft-focus world where, once the predictable traumas have been dealt with, all or most of the characters emerge transformed and triumphant, shiny and glossy. At its best, this is just a comfort read of the kind that you pick up when you don't want to read anything too challenging -- and that's fine. But at the other end of the spectrum, there is this novel, which breaks no new ground whatsoever, is cluttered with characters all talking directly or indirectly at the reader (none of whom ever really manage to be anything more than a cliche -- eg troubled teenager, loyal feisty friend) and waaay too much implausible melodrama.

Green's publishers don't do the book any favors with the spoiler-ish book description and blurb on the book's jacket, either. But even without that, within the first 15 pages of the novel, it was very clear what kind of family crisis Sylvie was heading for. Her husband, Mark, is very intent that his stepdaughter shouldn't even consider attending college in New York; he's just as focused on making sure that Eve doesn't post any family photos on Facebook. So the stage is overly carefully prepared for the Great Revelation -- which isn't that much of a revelation. And as if suspecting that it wouldn't be, Green throws in three or four more subplots, some involving major melodrama and some that simply serve as obvious and pointless digressions. I think I was supposed to be moved by the final series of events in this novel, but that didn't happen: I simply rolled my eyes in disbelief.

Over the years, I had become accustomed to the fact that Green wouldn't return to the sometimes edgy but genuinely funny tone of her earlier novels, and had reconciled myself to that. In the mood for something light and predictable, I opted to request a Vine copy of her latest, only to find myself finishing the final pages with the firm resolution that there are better ways to spend four hours of my time. This may well appeal to those whose main reading is romance novels, but even a dedicated chick lit devotee is going to find better options out there. For starters, there is Joanna Trollope, whose The Other Family: A Novel revolves around precisely the same theme, with less obvious melodrama, more vivid characters and more real emotion.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 5, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Where did Jane Green go? The Jane Green who wrote Straight Talking and Mr. Maybe? I will admit - the first Jane Green novel I ever read was The Beach House - and it was pretty awful. But I gave her another shot and went for some of her older works - which I loved. And somehow..... I am back here again.... missing the old Jane Green. This story was far-fetched, predictable, and just ridiculously unbelieveable. I don't think I have it in me anymore. The old Jane Green had it going on. This newer version is completely watered down and I find her newer stories just plain boring.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2013
The story idea is definitely compelling but unfortunately what could have been a gripping and dramatic novel is weighed down by far too much cutesy and unrealistic dialogues between all characters. They tend to sound too similar because of it. I ordered the audio book and the reader made the precious conversations even more cheesy by reading almost everything with a clearly audible big smile on her face. I was entertained but not impressed.
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