I have read several Jane Green novels in the past and was really looking forward to reading Family Pictures. The blurb on the back got my attention, but it didn’t hold it long.
This did not read like any of the Jane Green books I’ve read. Actually, the first 50 or so pages were slow, uneventful, and quite boring. It was so hard to get into that the fact that I finished it is surprising. One reason, with an example:
Sylvie and her husband, Mark, are lying in bed when he asks her what it was she wanted to talk to him about. Two whole pages later, she replies. During those two pages is narration about skin care, jewelry and clothing party invites, her brain-damaged mother, and lack of her own money. All of that nonsense took me out of the direct action of their conversation.
I also found quite a few long and/or awkward sentences that caused me to pause and reread. I suppose I could have just skipped over them and garnered the same meaning out of the overall scene, but I tend to enjoy each sentence and not the read as a whole. Example, page 46:
“You can always return it,” Ginny Meyer, an old friend of Angie’s whom she hasn’t seen in years, winces as Angie turns the box in her hands, trying to figure out what it is.
This is what I consider an extremely awkward sentence. It’s wordy for one, but the punctuation after “You can always return it,” was written as if there would be a dialogue tag afterward. I reread to see what I missed. ‘Ginny Meyer winces’ is not a dialogue tag. It is a statement. There should have been a period at the end of the quoted text. One example may seem like picking, but when you’re repeatedly drawn out of the story for grammar, punctuation, spelling, tags, awkward sentences, etc., it takes from the story. I know some people can read right over those types of things and come out of it thinking the book was the best they’ve ever read. Unfortunately, I can’t.
The ending. I was more disappointed in the ending than any other aspect of the book. Too, happily ever after, fairy-tale-ish to be plausible. The chance of it all happening that way in real life is like zero to none.
After reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jane Green has fallen into the peak-and-burn pit so many authors have fallen into–write x-number of novels and find yourself out of fresh ideas or having your actual writing go stale. Having been a fan of Jane Green’s books in the past, I was truly disappointed in Family Pictures. 2.5-stars from this reviewer.