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The Photographer's Wife


The Photographer's Wife

While America experienced the Roaring Twenties, people in other parts of the world lived in seeming countenance and grace, not sensing that there was greater global unrest at stake around them. In Jerusalem, a British girl named Prudence lives in a harmonious community of diverse peoples, her father an English import brought there to redesign the Holy City in the personage of jolly ole England. A British pilot is hired to assist with the project, photographing the grand city from the clouds.

Eleanora, a young expat wife of a famous photographer from Jerusalem proper, falls in love with William Harrington, the ever-popular pilot. Soon, Harrington learns that Eleanora’s husband is part of an underground group in Jerusalem that aims to discard all British individuals from the premises. Prudence watches this cat-and-mouse game play itself out, the effects of its ardor, denial and lies making her immune to the push and pull of love in her own life as she grows up.

"Joinson has turned THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S WIFE into a riveting story about betrayal and love, and all that lies between when the world was at a resting place and there did not seem to be any end to the wonders of it all."

In 1937, Prudence is an artist named Prue, living near the ocean as a recluse, painting for herself and no one else. Harrington, the pilot, appears at her doorstep one day, dragging with him painful memories and truths she had never been told, truths that cause an avalanche in her world and rock its foundation forever. Harrington’s ploy is to give her the truth, but, armed with those truths, Prue finds herself investigating mysteries that are far beyond the comprehension of the girl she once was. The betrayals she encounters mimic the global activities that spawn yet another war.

This is the second novel by Suzanne Joinson, and her abilities are on particular display here. The emotional webs that interweave between the characters are dense and sticky; there are surprises galore and true mysteries to be figured out. When the pain of being a stranger in a strange land return to her, Prue can barely hold onto anything she believed as a child and, in the discoveries that lie in wait for her, finds that sometimes some things are best left alone. 

Joinson ramps up the action by never shying away from dramatic complexity between interesting characters. The push and pull of the past against Prue’s present helps keep readers as off-balance as her, striving to find a new light as the plot progresses and the mistakes of the past give way to a new understanding of the future. The author really enjoys wringing every possible note out of the music of a world when nations actually took a moment and stood together, their peoples interacting and living together in harmony. The backdrop of this long-forgotten world is rich like a tapestry, replete with details of the past that help bring the stories to vibrant life in the present.

“I wanted to trace the connection of a journey made from the landscape I live in --- Sussex, the South Coast of England, which during the wars was the front line, the first place to have been invaded if the invasion ever happened…to the city of Jerusalem, which is both the most famous city in the world and also the most elusive and complex.”

Researching authentic photographs and diaries of the time, Joinson was able to take a true-life pilot’s story and turn it into a grand love story/adventure story that rivals Dr. Zhivago or Testament of Youth for its relationship to a particular time and place and the ways in which power seeks to corrupt them fully, love being a casualty of the dominating parties.

Joinson has turned THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S WIFE into a riveting story about betrayal and love, and all that lies between when the world was at a resting place and there did not seem to be any end to the wonders of it all. As Prue discovers, the underbelly of all that beauty had something rotten to bear. And, like all good secrets, they completely transform the perspectives of both the characters and readers as the story drives towards its impactful conclusion.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on March 3, 2016

The Photographer's Wife
by Suzanne Joinson

  • Publication Date: February 7, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • ISBN-10: 1620408317
  • ISBN-13: 9781620408315