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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review - The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

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Review by Suze

It's 1888 and Elizabeth's family has enough status to spend their summers at a lake in the Allegheny Mountains. The lake is above Johnstown. The inhabitants of the town don't interact much with the people who are staying at the club. The members are elite, people who are proud to be able to afford a place there and look down on the inhabitants of the town. However, Elizabeth doesn't blindly follow the opinions of her parents and can think for herself. Something isn't right with the lake, there's a danger she can't quite process. She also doesn't believe in staying away from the people who are living in Johnstown and becomes friends with Eugene, who works at the local steel mill. When a disaster is about to happen Elizabeth has to make a tough choice, what will she do?

Lee and her mother are living in poverty. She was supposed to go to university, but there's no money left to pay for the tuition. Lee's almost eighteen years old and that's when the genetic information of her closed adoption will become available. Lee would love to know more about her ancestors and is especially curious after seeing a photo of one of them standing next to Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Lee's search brings her to Johnstown, will she like what she finds there and will she be able to embrace her family history?

The Woman in the Photo is a beautiful story about two strong girls in different times. Lee is a smart girl who has a glorious future ahead of her. Unfortunately something went wrong and she has to start over with nothing. She's determined to find a way to make her dreams come true in a different way and I admired her spirit and resourcefulnesses. She doesn't give up and even though it isn't easy she's trying to make the best of her situation. Meanwhile she's also looking for her family. Elizabeth is an interesting ancestor. She's clever and headstrong and she and Lee have a lot in common. It was interesting to find out more about their connection and about their lives. I loved how Elizabeth makes up her own mind and tries to follow her own path, no matter the consequences. Mary Hogan writes about two beautiful strong women and I enjoyed every single page of her story.

The Woman in the Photo is an impressive coming of age story. Mary Hogan describes life in society with its etiquette and expectations in a gorgeous impressive way. I was intrigued by Elizabeth's world, the rigidity of it, the suffocating rules and customs and the way she tries to escape the shackles that bind her. Mary Hogan skillfully alternates between the past and the present and the stories are equally fascinating. The way she writes about the lake kept me on the edge of my seat. I was spellbound by her story from beginning to end and highly recommend this fantastic book.


If you love stories that are a combination of the past and the present and like reading about strong girls turning into admirable women you should definitely read The Woman in the Photo. 


  1. Great review! I love dual timelines!

  2. Never heard of this book, but it sounds interesting

  3. Oooooo, I love novels set in different time periods!! Definitely interest piqued! :D

  4. Thanks for the introduction to this book.

  5. I want to know what is the danger surrounding the lake.

  6. One of my favorite types of stories, strong gals always make good narratives.

  7. Both of their stories are intriguing. A good historical novel for me to add to my tbr :)

  8. The world-building sounds great!


  9. I love this time period and I definitely like to read about strong women.

  10. An interesting premise especially given the fact that we're celebrating the centenary of Women's Suffrage.