The Girl in the Photograph is a haunting and atmospheric novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras – the 1890’s and 1930’s – and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate. Kate Riordan’s novel is a beautifully dark and beguiling tale which will sweep you away. It will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.
I absolutely loved this story of Alice Eveleigh and, living 40 years earlier, Elizabeth Stanton. The two women seem in some ways to be living parallel lives and encountering some of the same problems, and I really enjoyed reading this.
The way the two stories entwine really caught my imagination, and although not a HUGE amount really happens in Alice’s narrative in my opinion, apart from her giving birth, I found it completely absorbing! I was so intrigued to find out what had actually happened to Elizabeth and her family years before, and simultaneously interested in Alice’s predicament and whether anything would develop with Tom. Having recently read some unimpressive love stories, Alice and Tom’s relationship was, in stark contrast, written without the usual cringe-worthy stereotypes or over-dramatic clichéd declarations.
The language used throughout was wonderful! For one thing, the atmosphere created throughout the book- though subtle- was spot on. I felt quite unnerved at times but the strange noises and feelings Alice experiences never seemed overdone or completely ridiculous; the sense of slight menace was often lurking in the background, and this made it all the more eerie. It becomes clear that Elizabeth was treated by doctors at that time in completely the wrong way for what was obviously post-natal depression; this was a really interesting topic and one I hadn’t read about a great deal in fiction. The story revealed the horrible circumstances many new mothers found themselves in, in a frank and honest way, showing why at times Edward could have been forgiven for the way he treated her because he simply didn’t understand what she was going through – no one did, and that was the real problem. Elizabeth’s treatment was nonetheless horrible and, at times, downright inhumane. It really struck me, when reading The Girl in the Photograph, that the way society’s attitudes towards this illness has hugely changed, thank god, and I was hugely interested in this topic which added to my enjoyment of the novel.
There’s a quote from Rachel Hore on the front cover and she is certainly someone I’d compare Kate Riordan’s writing to in a positive way. I love stories which jump around different time frames before meeting at some point in the present- or in the case of this story’s present, the 1930’s – with a feeling that the narrators are somehow linked. Despite this being perhaps a well-used format, I still really enjoy reading novels like these and particularly The Girl in the Photograph, which create such a strong atmosphere and is written so skilfully. I would definitely recommend this to others.