Tuesday, 25 August 2015
The Picture Book (aka The Undertow) by Jo Baker
Set against the rolling backdrop of a century of British history from WWI to the 'War on Terror', this is a family portrait captured in snapshots. First there is William, the factory lad who loses his life in Gallipoli, then his son Billy, a champion cyclist who survives the D-Day Landings on a military bicycle, followed by his crippled son Will who becomes an Oxford academic in the 1960s, and finally his daughter Billie, an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names - William, Billy, Will, Billie - echo down through the family, so too the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and secrets kept. Rich in drama and sensuous in detail, The Blue Album is a beautifully crafted story about fathers and sons, about fate and repetition, and about the possibility of breaking free.
On the whole I'd give this a 3.5 stars or 7/10.
I found this quite a struggle at times. The writing flowed well, but due to the way it was written I felt that there was not enough character development. In my opinion there were too many characters and at times I felt I was struggling to remember who was who.
Written in chapters that followed chronologically, this story spanned many generations of the same family and their descendants over a 90 year period. I felt that the chapters were like looking at a photograph, as they all related to certain times in the life of the family.
Please do not take any notice of the length taken to read as I started the boo earlier in the year but had to put it to the side for ages while other books that needed to be read took precedence.
I preferred the latter chapters that were set in the last 20 years or so, I felt that I engaged with the characters in these chapters more than the earlier ones.