29/05/2009

Pictures of You (by Jane Elmor)

I hadn't come across Jane Elmor. But the blurb of her book looked interesting, so I was happy to receive it from The Bookbag for review.

'Pictures of You' is her second novel. It's the story of Luna, who is an artist. It's also the story of Angie, her mother, and then there's Nat, a teenage single mother in horrendous circumstances, who appears to have no connection with the rest of the book.

I liked Luna. Most of the book is about her growth as an artist, and as a woman. Meeting some long-lost relatives, she has a sudden hankering for security, and
particularly for children of her own. She also becomes very angry with her mother, who always told her that her late father was a scoundrel and that they were better off without him. Yet comments from his friends and relatives, and photographs he took make him sound a pleasant man.

The plot alternates between Luna's viewpoint and Angie's, with a nod to Nat's story for a few pages here and there. The main plot was cleverly written so that we see how some of Luna's misconceptions about her mother developed. We also get an insight into the free-love commune in which Angie spent many of her young adult years. And as well as this, there's a developing contrast between Luna's relationship with the bohemian, selfish and rather irresponsible Pierre, and a growing friendship with Jon, who seems far more responsible, caring and full of insight.

I liked Luna and Angie, but was less impressed by Pierre and Jon and Luna's attitudes to them, which kept changing. And while I felt sorry for Nat, I also found her frustrating and irritating. The ending as a whole didn't feel believable; it tied together several threads and brought resolution, but didn't seem realistic.

The writing is very good, on the whole, spoiled only by an excess of one swear word which is used throughout the book far too frequently to be effective. The unfolding of the truth behind Luna's childhood is very well done, even if the eventual resolution is over-dramatic.

While it took me a while to get into the story, I read the last hundred pages or so in just one sitting, and - on the whole - enjoyed it. Recommended if you like women's fiction with more depth than some, and so long as you don't object to frequent swearing.

(My longer review of 'Pictures of You' is now available on the Bookbag site)

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