The Woman in the Picture
The Woman in the Picture by James Wilson is a beautifully written, intriguing and gorgeously romantic novel set in the early days of cinema.
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This is it. Too late to change my mind. The engine’s flexing its muscles, giving a horsy snort. Even if I ran, I couldn’t make it back now . . .
Opening with a desperate pilgrimage to the dying Weimar Republic in 1927, The Woman in the Picture tells the story of English film-maker Henry Whitaker during the inter-war years. On his return to Britain, Henry begins his career – first as assistant to the legendary director Arthur Maxted, and then as one of the country’s foremost documentary-makers. But all the while he yearns to create a feature film of his own – a work of art that will give his life meaning.
Interwoven with Henry’s narrative is the present-day quest of his daughter, Miranda, to understand what happened to her mother, a refugee Henry met and married in Germany at the end of the war. Did Henry – as his daughter has always supposed – drive Romana to suicide? Or do Miranda’s half-repressed childhood memories hint at an altogether more complex and extraordinary truth?
With great narrative skill and his rare gift for language, James Wilson draws these two strands together brilliantly, in a rich and impassioned novel about love, war, art, consequence and guilt.
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