Family Pictures: A Novel by Jane Green

Last night I finished the book I was reading by Jane Green. It proved our vulnerabilities and how naive we can sometimes be.

That what we think would never happen to us, sometimes does.

"Maggie and Sylvie are perfect strangers: two very different women, living very different lives on opposite coasts. But they share more in common than they could ever imagine.
Both women have beautiful children on the verge of flying the nest, the home they worked hard to build and always longed for, and a handsome and devoted husband they can’t believe belongs to them. Both women think their lives are seamlessly secure, but they couldn’t be more wrong…"
Two women on opposite coasts, married to the same man, unbeknownst to them. He is handsome, successful and charming. (Watch out for those charming ones. Remember Ted Bundy was charming.)

As you read about these two very different women, you may wonder how they were fooled. 

But the fact of the matter is, we can all be fooled. 

Men like this (or women, if that is the case) are basically sociopaths. They don't feel guilt. 

It came to pass that these women soon realized that everything they had, was on paper. He took off and left them with creditors and sheriffs coming in to take over their homes to foreclosure, and tow trucks showing up to haul their vehicles away for non-payment.

What these very bright women shared, was the fact that they really knew nothing about their finances. He made sure of that. He told them not to worry, he was taking care of them. 

Except he wasn't. 

When the wife on the East coast got up the nerve to finally go to his company headquarters to check things out, she found that the business was no longer there. But the doorman gave her an address. 

Which led her to the seedier side of NYC, a place she'd never been in her life. Dressed in expensive jewelry and designer clothing, she walked through areas she was totally unaware of. And as she reached each block toward her destination, it was somehow worse than the one before.

Her fear mounted as she drew closer to the address on paper. 

The office was there, but it was clear no one had worked there in a long time. Layers of dust had settled over everything. It looked like everyone who worked there had just walked out one day, and left it just as it was. 

It was then that the full circumstances of her plight really hit her. He had lied about everything. 

What was she to tell her three three teenage children?

She really didn't have to worry much about that, because soon he was picked up by the police in California, and was sitting in jail facing trial for his crimes. For the money he had stolen from businesses that trusted him. 

The media sat in front of her home and accosted anyone who came out, asking them if they knew what this man had done. How could they have been fooled?

For all intents and purposes, he was a common thief. Just on a grand scale.

The same thing happened to the woman and her daughter on the opposite coast. She did not live in the lap of luxury that the woman in NYC was accustomed to. She was very different, more of a creative sort. Money and material possessions were not as important to her. 

But when the bank accounts are closed down and you can't even pay your bills, none of that matters.

Both of these women would have sworn this would never happen to them. They knew their husband and had faith in him. 

But that is where women sometimes get blinded by emotion and go off the tracks. We are often so sure of the man we love, that we cannot see the markers that should have signaled doubt and set off alarm bells in our head. 

So no matter who you are, and how sure you are of the person who shares your bed, you can never ever be too sure. I myself fell prey to that. You can never be totally sure unless you are following them everywhere they go. 

We women are raised to be nurturing and trusting. This can sometimes come back and bite us in the butt. 

This book should tell us to find out exactly what our financial situation is, even though he may be telling you not to be concerned, that he will take care of you. You need to find out NOW.

You need to see these things, these documents that make up our lives, with your own eyes. And stop looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes that is our downfall.

That old saying "if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't" is something we must allow ourselves to look at with the utmost scrutiny. 

Because, sadly enough, we are, none of us, immune to lies and misfortune.

Has something like this happened to someone you know?


  1. Oh-Yes- I know someone that something similar has happened to...this sounds like a great read and I will try and pick it up from the library. Thanks for the review. xo Diana

  2. In the late 70's our across the street neighbors were a couple our age with two little boys the ages of my two oldest children. He was an auto worker under those old GREAT union contracts. He would be laid off every summer and receive 90% of his wages, so they had even more money since his travel expenses to work out of town were high. They did all sorts of fun family stuff, hiking and picnicing and visiting amusement parks, going to farms to pick fresh produce, attending sporting events, swimming at the swim club. Meanwhile I was stuck home with five children under 7 and no car. I thought they were the perfect family. We were friends and car pooled, etc, over the years. One day my neighbor came over and told me that her husband had been having an affair, he changed all their mail to a p o box with her knowledge, had filed taxes without her knowledge, and most importantly, changed all their bills to that p o box and had not paid them. She came home from her little part time job - found the house 75% empty (including stereo systems, tvs, video games and everything electronic that her boys had received over the years as gifts). and a note to pick up a registered letter at the post office. Her house was in foreclosure and was up for auction in 3 days. She also discovered that all her utilities were going to be shut off at the end of the week. He had moved in with his mother, hid all their funds, and claimed poverty.

    Her first step was to plead for her family to come through and help her save her house (it happened)! Second, she was able to take no-interest loans from her church to pay balances on the utilities. She did not have a down payment for an attorney and had to represent herself in court for the divorce he filed. Luckily the judge did not find all this funny and allowed her to keep the house (she had to pay him the original down payment of $10,000) and even got alimony for a year or two. They were married 18 years so she was able to get his retirement of social security.

    I still think how jealous I was of their family for all those summers and how glad now I was stuck with my own husband and family.

  3. I just got through rereading Anita Shreeves' The Pilot's Wife and it reminded me of the unbelievable news that was revealed about Charles Lindbergh's "other" families in Europe. What were there, 3 more families other than his first family here in America? An American hero who could have done this? Thank God his wife was not in a condition to have understood what had happened when the news came out but I have to think that a brilliant woman such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh had to have known something wasn't right while it was happening. I think of how it must have affected his children here when the news came out. I have such admiration for Reeve for having realized that the blame was not on his European children and that she reached out to these half brothers and sisters and visited them.

    This book sounds fascinating. I'd like to read it and see how it ends.

  4. Sounds like an interesting book. It's mind boggling to me as to how men can be so deceitful and get away with it for so long.

  5. It is so scary! I did read this book and found it really good and eye opening. I was always sure to know what was going on financially in my marriages, but the last one was such a liar and a manulipitor that I was scared of him and got out. I lost lots and got my credit ruined but I pulled myself together and I'm now OK. I would never trust someone with my financial security ever.

  6. This book is sitting on my night table waiting in is next. I've been waiting to read it for some time, thanks Brenda for the push.



I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time.

Please be kind with your comments. We all need kindness in this world. That's not to say you can't state your opinion! Everyone should be able to state their own opinion in a kind and thoughtful manner.

I appreciate each and every one of you!