The Photographer’s Wife

Written by Suzanne Joinson
Review by Rebecca Kightlinger

“Each betrayal was a closer step to death and he understood that she was all the days of freedom before the war…”

Taken from an ailing mother in 1920s England and sent to live with her father, a British architect with the impossible mission of bringing English gardens to Jerusalem, eleven-year-old Prudence Ashton becomes an incidental witness to atrocious secrets memorialized on film by distinguished photographer Khaled Rasul.

In The Photographer’s Wife, Joinson has crafted a novel that straddles the years between the two world wars and the gulfs between war pilot Lieutenant William Harrington, investigative photographer Rasul, and the woman they both love. Close third-person, nonlinear narratives told from Prue and William’s points of view engulf the reader in post-WWI Jerusalem, revealing Prue and Willie in intimate detail while allowing the reader mere glimpses of Eleanora, the photographer’s intriguing wife. It is not until Joinson brings the many threads of their stories together in Prue’s gripping, first-person, present-tense narrative set in 1937 England that the roles of the many players in this perilous game become clear.

While nonlinear narrative, fluctuating tense, and a shifting point of view can render a story confusing and disjointed when attempted by a less-skilled novelist, Joinson masterfully employs sub-plot and subtle detail to take the reader smoothly from character to character, decade to decade, and place to place. The reader, confident in the hands of a true storyteller, is free to settle in and be swept away.