Family Pictures (Green)

Family Pictures
Jane Green, 2013
St. Martin's Press
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780312591830

Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes Family Pictures, the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined.

Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They're both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart.

As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves? (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—May 31, 1968
Where—London, England, UK
Education—University of Wales
Currently—lives in Westport, Connecticut, USA

Jane Green is the pen name of Jane Green Warburg, an English author of women's novels. Together with Helen Fielding she is considered a founder of the genre known as chick lit.

Green was born in London, England. She attended the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and worked as a journalist throughout her twenties, writing women's features for the Daily Express, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and others. At 27 she published her first book, Straight Talking, which went straight on to the Bestseller lists, and launched her career as "the queen of chick lit".

Frequent themes in her most recent books, include cooking, class wars, children, infidelity, and female friendships. She says she does not write about her life, but is inspired by the themes of her life.

She is the author of more than 15 novels, several (The Beach House, Second Chance, and Dune Road) having been listed on the New York Times bestseller list. Her other novels Another Piece of My Heart (2012), Family Pictures (2013), and Tempting Fate (2014) received wide acclaim.

In addition to novels, she has taught at writers conferences, and writes for various publications including the Sunday Times, Parade magazine,, and Huffington Post.

Green now lives in Connecticut with her second husband, Ian Warburg, six children, two dogs and three cats. Actively philanthropic, her foremost charities are The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (Paul Newman's camp for children with life-threatening illnesses), Bethel Recovery Center, and various breast cancer charities. She is also a supporter of the Westport Public Library, and the Westport Country Playhouse. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 4/20/2014.)

Book Reviews
Told in alternating points of view...[t]he first section introduces Sylvie's, as she deals with her ill, demanding mother, her daughter Eve's developing anorexia, and her husband's prolonged work trips.... The next section shifts to Maggie who lives on the other side of the country,...a society wife...[who] sedulously hides her humble origins. When Eve meets Grace through a mutual friend in New York, a life-changing secret is revealed.... Verdict: This gripping story is ultimately one of redemption. Green's many fans won't be disappointed. —Kristen Stewart, Pearland Lib., Brazoria Cty. Lib. System, TX
Library Journal

...Sylvie has a good life. Her daughter Eve will head off to college soon, and her second husband, Mark, may be ready to settle down into a sales manager position.... Yet all is not well, not well at all.... One fateful weekend, Eve goes to an all-girls party in New York City, where she meets a kindred spirit, Grace, and the two girls swiftly abandon the others to their partying. Grace takes Eve home, where...Eve sees a photograph that will ruin two families. Riddled with coincidences and unlikely secrets, Green's (Another Piece of My Heart, 2012, etc.) latest still manages to explore complex family dynamics with warmth. An inverted fairy tale in which the happily-ever-after occurs without the prince.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. First, a show of hands: Who among you knows someone who appeared to have picture-perfect life—only to see it all come crashing down? Take a moment to talk about perception versus reality in marriage and in family life. Did reading Family Pictures force you to take a closer look at the lives of your friends, your neighbors, yourselves? And if so, what did you see?

2. When we first meet Sylvie, she is contemplating what her life will be like once Eve goes away to college and she is on her own. Do you think it’s common for mothers to feel this way? Discuss the ways in which the female characters in Family Pictures struggle to find and define themselves in the domestic realm and beyond. You may wish to share your own personal experiences as well.

3. In an early scene with Sylvie and their friends, Mark tells a story about how his identity was stolen years ago. “That’s why I’m paranoid,” he said. “I know that people aren’t necessarily who they say they are.” This is a recurring theme throughout the book; it’s also an example of how the author uses foreshadowing to set the stage for the eventual, shocking truth about Mark. What other examples can you recall? Could you predict any of the plot points? What were the most powerful “aha!” moments in Family Pictures for you?

4. Sylvie performs exhaustive online searches to locate photographs of Mark and his other family. Maggie’s landlords learn everything about her scandalous past via Google. Eve chats on Facebook to make new friends and Grace and Buck do the same to stay in touch. Talk a bit about the characters’ “virtual reality” in Family Pictures. What issues of privacy and/or oversharing do we all face in the Internet era? Are we closer to each other than ever before? Or does living in the second dimension allow us to carefully curate our identities…and lead double lives?

5. In the marital realm “we’re flawed,” says Sylvie. “None of us is infallible.” Do you agree? Do you view the laws of marriage in black and white? Or do you tend to see them in shades of gray? (E. L. James pun not intended!)

6. After Mark’s deception tears their lives apart, Sylvie is shielded by her friend Angie’s fierce love and loyalty; Maggie finds comfort in the company of Patty, Barb, and Mrs. W; and, in the end, Sylvie and Maggie are healed by one another. Talk about the power of female friendships in Family Pictures. (You may choose to bring Eve and Claudia/ Grace, into the discussion as well.)

7. “I have lost everything,” Maggie says. “But in doing so, I can’t help but start to wonder what ‘everything’ meant.” How would you define Maggie’s everything? What is your own definition of “having it all?”

8. Eve’s eating disorder is one of the darker elements of the novel. Why do you think she starved herself? What was she trying to show or hide, control or let go of? Moreover, how did Eve’s illness function—for better or for worse—as a narrative device to bring all the characters closer together?

9. Another show of hands: Even though they’re obviously not related by blood—and did not know one another at all until they were young adults—do you find the love affair between Eve and Chris acceptable? Or too close for comfort? Discuss your reasons.

10. The real definition of a “modern family” is as good as anyone’s guess. What is your impression of the final snapshot we are left with in the novel? Is everybody in this family happier, as Sylvie suggests, than when Mark was in it? How do the losses measure against the gains? Do the ends justify the means?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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