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Five Photos of My Wife By Agnes Desarthe

Five Photos of My Wife
by Agnes Desarthe

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The English debut of a bestselling novelist, kin to Penelope Fitzgerald and Louis Begley in style and subtlety.

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Five Photos of My Wife Summary

Five Photos of My Wife by Agnes Desarthe

The English debut of a bestselling novelist, kin to Penelope Fitzgerald and Louis Begley in style and subtlety.

At eighty, Max Opass is still reeling from the death of his wife a year earlier. His two grown-up children live abroad with their own families, his son in Bolivia, his daughter in Japan: he writes awkwardly to his daughter with the news of his humdrum activities and tells her that he's decided to have his wife's portrait committed to paper or canvas, permanently and posthumously. So, he looks up `Artists' in the Yellow Pages, picks a few for arbitrary reasons, and calls them up. He asks each if they will paint a portrait of his wife, using his five favourite photographs of her for their sole visual reference. One artist - successful and modish - intimidates him; another - an amateur raising kids by herself - prompts him to pity; a pair of art students baffle him; and a bridge-playing acquaintance turns out to have elderly hots for him. Each encounter, each portrait, is both comic and moving, like Max. As these accumulate, the reader comes to realise that Max's grasp on who his wife really was is not so sure after all. The book oscillates calmly between being amusing and being reflective, and delivers a powerful slow punch at its close.

Agnes Desarthe began her writing life as a children's writer, and it shows here: as in Gretta Mulrooney's `Araby', not a word is wasted and the pace is even and sure. In its sympathetic but unsentimental portrayal of a deluded old man, the book is reminiscent of Louis Begley's work. And in her dry wit, exquisite ear for conversation and reverberating sense of more being meant than at first seems apparent, there are echoes of Penelope Fitzgerald or Hilary Mantel.

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Five Photos of My Wife Reviews

`Desarthe is a daring and imaginative writer. Through Max Opass, she lets her lucid prose plunder dreams and question the meaning of existence.'

`A rare tribute to the love of a wife... Desarthe's novel, lucidly translated by Adriana Hunter, is delicate, subtle and full of charm.'
Daily Mail

`Ageing and frailty, both physical and emotinal, are rarely presented with such sheer beauty. Five Photos of My Wife has a limpid, effortless elegance: prose by Chanel.'
Scotland on Sunday

About Agnes Desarthe

Agnes Desarthe is a prize-winning author of children's books, among her published books for adults are `Five Photos of My Wife' and `Good Intentions'.

Additional information

Five Photos of My Wife by Agnes Desarthe
Agnes Desarthe
Used - Well Read
HarperCollins Publishers
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book. We do our best to provide good quality books for you to read, but there is no escaping the fact that it has been owned and read by someone else previously. Therefore it will show signs of wear and may be an ex library book.