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All Alison ever wanted for her six children was a blissful childhood. Together with Ingrid, the family au pair, she transformed a shabby Edwardian mansion into a veritable shrine of togetherness, complete with special-occasion dinners on exquisite Limoges china and elegant birthday parties on the estate's sprawling lawns. For explosive Paul, precocious Gina, pretty Sandra, adventurous Katie, clever Roger, and flighty Clare, their home seemed the perfect place to grow up. But was it?

Alison has perfected the persona of devoted wife and doting mother; Ingrid has been her willing accomplice in shielding everyone from unsightly truths. Beneath the postcard sheen, however, this picture is clouded by a distant father, inexplicable emotional outbursts, and long-repressed secrets that no one dares mention. For years, Alison's adult children have protected her illusion of domestic perfection, but as they return one by one to their former home, they confront the effects of past choices on their current adult lives. Once family mysteries begin to unravel, each must grapple with new and difficult truths.

Quietly provocative and utterly compelling, Family Album is a highly nuanced work that showcases a master of her craft.

Praise for FAMILY ALBUM

Alison wants the world to know that she presides over a large, happy, close-knit family. She and her distracted, uninvolved scholarly husband, Charles, have a brood of six who, along with Ingrid, the au pair, fill Allersmead, a somewhat worn, sprawling Edwardian English manse. Through the masterly use of emotional intricacies, Lively gradually reveals the simmer beneath the surface that belies the image of unity Alison has insisted on for decades, both within the family framework and without, to the world at large. Tradition and a sense of duty compel the adult children to return to Allersmead over the years, and it is through the mature observations of their childhood traumas (along with those of Alison, Charles, and Ingrid) that one learns the true cost of the shared and separate secrets that have informed their grownup lives as well as their relationships to one another. No doubt frazzled mothers of much smaller families will find comfort in Lively's probing, challenging take on large family life and maternal competence. Lively's 17th adult novel is a wonderful follow-up to Gil Courtemanche's A Good Death.
Library Journal, 10/15/2009


Employing her trademark skill at honing detail and dialogue, Lively (Moon Tiger) delivers a vigorous new novel revolving around a house outside of London, the sprawling Edwardian homestead of Allersmead, and the family of six children who grew up there. By degrees-in shifting POVs and time periods cutting from the 1970s until the present-Lively introduces the prodigious Harper family. There's Alison, the frazzled matriarch, who married young and pregnant, and persuaded her historian husband to buy Allersmead; distracted father Charles, who writes recherché tomes in his study and can't remember what ages his children are; and the children, who range from the wayward eldest and mother's favorite, Paul, to the youngest, Clare, whose parentage involves a family secret concerning Ingrid, the Scandinavian au pair. Lively adeptly focuses on the second-oldest, Gina, a foreign journalist who planned her life to stay far away from home until, at age 39, fellow journalist Philip goads her to contemplate settling down for the first time. With its bountiful characters and exhaustive time traveling, Lively's vivisection of a nuclear family displays polished writing and fine character delineation.

Publishers Weekly, 9/14/2009

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