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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Family Album: A Novel Hardcover – October 29, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

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 recherché 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. (Nov.)
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"Exquisite.... The writing is slick and deliberate, with a keen observation of middle-class domestic life." ---Chicago Sun-Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021246
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A family that has come undone. Alison and Charles the parents, Ingrid the au pair and the six children, Paul, Gina, Ralph, Sandra, Kate and Clare all live in the lovely old Edwardian home they call Allersmead. Penelope Lively has given us a story of the lives of these nine people and their perspectives of how events shaped their lives.

We learn about the house, Allersmead, 'a gravelly drive, stone urns, lanky shrubs and, in the air, a redolent waft of hearty cooking.' Gina has come home to introduce her new love, Phillip to the family and vice versa. Alison, the mom, the earth mom, all she has wanted her entire life is to have children, and a husband, of course. Charles, the absent father, he lived in the house but he was absent emotionally and little is known about him. Ingrid, the Au pair, who lives happily with the family helping to raise the children and to organize the family. Paul, the oldest son is at home. He is his mother's favorite, but has never been able to do much with the life he was handed. Gina is a journalist who travels the world. She does not share much about her childhood, nor as we come to find out do the other children. There is something hidden, a secret that no one discusses. The children, all adults now, know about the secret, but it has never interfered with their lives, or so they thought. Alison, the mother is oblivious to any secret, her family is her all and be-all, and she does not recognize anything outside of her atmosphere. Charles is too busy with his research and writings to be bothered. Each member of the family discusses their points of view, alternating between the children and the adults. This is done in flashback, as they focus on what they remember. The children are gone, but there are no grandchildren, and we ponder why this is.
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Format: Hardcover
It was a joy to read this book after Between Here and April. It was such a good, though not great, novel. Maybe it reminded me of my own family in some ways or what my family is going through as the parents age, but I really felt a connection to the family, if not all of the characters.

I will say that I did enjoy the e-mails at the end. I did not think it fractured the flow of the novel. In fact it enhanced the plot. I guess my main issue was the way Lively presenting the concept of memories. I think it would have been better if the characters weren't so actively recounting the past as Peter did in his old bedroom or researching the concept of nostalgia as Charles was. But Lively's ideas about time and perception were thought-provoking.
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Format: Hardcover
Penelope Lively's new novel, Family Album, is about a large family that grows up in a large house in suburban London. The Harper family consists of six children, the two parents, and an "au pair girl" who has played an interesting role in family history.

The Harper family revolves around Alison, the mother of the brood, and Allersmead, the Victorian "pile" that the Harper family has lived in for 40 years or so. The father, Charles, a distant figure in the household, is sort of "there, but not there", to his six children. He's a fairly successful writer of non-fiction, often writing about families in far off lands, while moving through his own children's lives at a safe distance. He's often holed up in his library, which is off-limits to the rest of the household. He doesn't get involved with his children, other than with his oldest son, Paul, a neer-do-well who Charles often disparages.

Alison Harper is a "super-Mom". She's the one who wanted a large family and she has made a life for herself seemingly limited to raising the children and keeping the house. She's not the intellectual that her husband is and actually has very little communication with him.

In this melieu the six children - four daughter and two sons - grow up. All but one leave home as soon as possible, but maintain a tenuous connection with family and house. They return to the family home for holidays and birthdays and try, between themselves, to make some sense of their crazy upbringing. An upbringing that only Alison sees as "happy".

Lively is a good writer and most of the nine characters are well drawn. The book goes back and forth in time, depending on who's "telling the story". I found the characters interesting enough so as to almost wish that another writer, maybe one who writes big, fleshy, juicy novels, would take these characters and expand the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to the flap on the cover, there were family secrets. There was "the cellar game." An indication that something awful was being covered up. So far I am almost to the end and have started turning pages without reading them, only to see if I have missed anything. Nope. More of the same. Decribing who is sitting where in the parlor, who is talking to whom at the dining table, 6 children, two parents and the mother's helper, Ingrid. According to what is mentioned too many times, they are an unusual family, even an exotic family, but darned if they seem unusual to me. Every event is described in minute detail, but you can take any family and with a little creative writing, build up a drama about a trip to the store, or a wrong look at someone during lunch. The cellar game was nothing unusual, unless there turns out to be more in the last pages I haven't read yet. The reason I am writing this now is because I am so impatient for something unusual to happen and it hasn't, I might not finish it. There is the situation with the youngest child, Clare, but that's really nothing that unusual. I'm almost done, and so far, this could be a family like a million others. If you want to read just to read, OK, but don't expect anything.
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