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I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 14th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Family
Source: The Publisher
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In this compulsively readable historical novel, from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of two young women—one in America’s Gilded Age, one in scrappy modern-day California—whose lives are linked by a single tragic afternoon in history.
1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.
Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?
Woman’s Fiction isn’t a genre I pick up often – for no obvious reason at all. But the ones that I have picked up lately are wonderful, and that includes this book, The Woman in the Photo. Told in dual perspectives, we get two correlating stories. The story of Elizabeth in 1889. And the story of Lee, or Elizabeth, in the present day. Both women are trying to find their footing in their own way and dealing with separate emotional tragedies and first love.
The two stories woven together was beautifully written and I loved it. Mary’s writing is very detailed and while slow at times, I was hooked from the first page. I did find it off that Elizabeth’s POV was 1st person, and Lee’s was 3rd though.
In addition to their stories, we have the tragic disaster of the dam breaking in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. There are real pictures at each chapter page and it was fascinating to see. It was heartbreaking to read at times, however, I loved the fictional story weaved into the real event.
If you’re looking for a well-written story about love, family, and loss, then I highly recommend the Woman in the Photo. This was the first book my Mary Hogan that I have read, but I am definitely looking forward to more!
Tell me your thoughts
- Have you read The Woman in the Photo? If so, what did you think?
- The Woman in the Photo ties in fiction will real life events, the flood of Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889. Do you now anything about this event?
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Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic, and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter & Instagram for random shenanigans.