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Eux sur la photo

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,674 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Une petite annonce dans un journal comme une bouteille à la mer. Hélène cherche la vérité sur sa mère, morte lorsqu’elle avait trois ans. Ses indices : deux noms et une photographie retrouvée dans des papiers de famille, qui montre une jeune femme heureuse et insouciante, entourée de deux hommes qu’Hélène ne connaît pas. Une réponse arrive : Stéphane, un scientifique vivan ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 300 pages
Published by Arléa (first published August 25th 2011)
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Kim I try to give a bit of information regarding the plot in order to spark the interest of people who may be thinking of reading the book but you have to…moreI try to give a bit of information regarding the plot in order to spark the interest of people who may be thinking of reading the book but you have to strike a balance between 'sparking an interest' and revealing substantial parts of the plot, which I try not to do. I quite often use the type of detail that has already been revealed in the 'blurb' on the cover (but in my own words) and then say something to the effect 'but then it all goes horribly wrong....' So, in answer to the question, I don't reveal the plot but just a basis on which someone could make a decision as to whether or not it is a book they would want to read - some people reviewing a book may find this a difficult balance to strike.(less)
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Connie G
"The three figures in the photograph are frozen forever, two men and a woman bathed in sunlight."

The woman in the newspaper photo is Nathalie Hivert who died when her daughter, Helene, was four. Helene was intrigued by the photograph and wanted to know more about her mother's life. She placed an ad in some French and Swiss newspapers, and began a correspondence with Stephane, the son of one of the men in the photo.

The story is told in letters and e-mails with occasional descriptions of other pho
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 After her Father's death, Helene is sorting through his papers when she finds a photograph of her mother at a tennis tournament, with two unknown young men. Knowing very little about her mother except that she died in an accident when Helene was four, she places an advert with the photo in the newspapers. She receives a reply from a young biologist in Switzerland who claims one of the men in the photo is his late father.

From there, in a series of letter, e-mails and postcards, Helene and Sté
Liz Barnsley
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coming 2014 from Gallic Books

Translated from the French by: Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz

Thank you to Gallic for the lovely surprise of a copy of this book in the post.

The three figures in the photograph are frozen forever, two men and a woman bathed in sunlight . . .

The chance discovery of a newspaper image from 1971 sets two people on the path to learning the disturbing truth about their parents’ pasts.

Helene Hivert discovers a photograph of her mother, a woman she knows little about, and adver
Cold War Conversations Podcast
A beautifully written poignant and moving story of parental secrets.

The story starts with Hélène who doesn't remember her mother as she died when she was an infant. She finds a picture of her mother as a very young woman, at a tennis tournament with two young men she did not recognise at all. Hélène places an advertisement, asking for more information about the people in the photo.

Stéphane responds as he recognises one of the young men is his father and so the story unfolds via the corresponden
Once you start this book, you won't want to put it down, each letter and photo gives a little more, slowly unravelling the bigger picture of the lives of the two correspondents and their connection. Riveting.

My full review here at Word by Word.

Hélène Hiver knows virtually nothing about her mother who died when she was four. She learned early never to question her father and stepmother, fearing their anger. But she is now thirty nine years old, her father dead three years and stepmother Sylvia who raised her is without any memory in a rest home.

She finds a newspaper clipping in her father's office, her mother young and beautiful accompanied by two men. From her apartment in Paris, Hélène casts a net with newspaper ads in Fran
page turner consisting of letters (including emails), phone calls, diary entries; while the general outline of the story is easily guessable after a while (the blurb is fairly accurate), the novel is so engrossing that I simply couldn't put it down once I opened it; beside the engrossing story and the very interesting dual set of characters (the present day librarian/archivist and the biology professor and their parents), the book also shows starkly the differences in social life between the 60' ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The People in the Photo’ arrived from France garlanded with literary awards. I’m inclined to be a little wary of books like that, books that are often too serious and too modern for my taste, but I fell in love with this particular book. It tells wonderfully moving and though-provoking human story; and it is so very east to read, to become involved, to keep turning the pages because you care about these people and you need to know what happens ….

Hélène didn’t remember her mother, who had died w
Jeanette Grant-Thomson
This is a book of letters, emails, text messages and diary excerpts, with each chapter beginning with a segment written in no-point-of-view prose, like a text book (or omniscient author). It is a translation from the French.

Parisian archivist Helene knows very little about her mother who died when Helene was four. Hoping to find out something about her, Helene puts an ad in the newspaper, with a photo of her mother and two men.

The response is the story. It is a story within a story, as we follow
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rule #1 when writing an epistolary novel: make sure the two characters are actually distinct and distinguishable.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are times when you read a book that takes your breath away…you sit for hours on end trying to internalize what you have just read…. trying to piece together the storm of emotions as your brain tries to re-direct itself to the more practical and realistic matters at hand, but for all its effort, neither the brain nor your heart can process the catharsis that you have gone through!! It’s an emotional trauma, not necessarily bad, but definitely something you cannot ignore nor can you afford t ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, mystery
Helene and Stephane join together in a search for the identity of people in photo, one of whom is her mother and another of whom is his father. Their search leads them to more photos, letters and journals, and in the process they learn more about the secrets their parents had. The entire story is told through e-mails and text messages and letters and journal entries and descriptions of photos. It's a captivating story that gives readers both a mystery and philosophical food for thought.
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The three figures in the photograph are frozen for ever, two men and a woman bathed in sunlight. All three are dressed in white and holding tennis racquets."

Helene (I can't do the accents on this keyboard, sorry!) has put an ad into a paper seeking information on an old photograph (described above). Two of the people in the photo from 1971 are named, the second man is not. Helene knows that the woman in the photo is her mother, but neither of the men are her father. She was raised by her father
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one that I probably never would have heard about or even considered if I had not gotten it sent to me for consideration for possible review. Once, it arrived, I was very interested in reading it. I grabbed it and dug in. Wow, I loved how the story of lost love mixed with the present and a little mystery was portrayed in this story. It goes to show you that all you need is a good author who knows how to write to bring life to any story.

The way this story was told with the back and f
Meh. Another so-so book to add to my recent reads. Am I in a personal slump, are my tastes changing or have I just been picking a run of bad'uns? ...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern, translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz, unfolds in a series of letters, texts, and emails between Hélène, a French archivist; and Stéphane, a Swiss biologist living in England.

Hélène discovers a photograph of her mother with two men while sorting through her father’s papers after his death. Having virtually no knowledge of her mother who died when Hélène was too young to remember her, she decides to post the photograph in the paper a
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I've read a book that wasn't recommended to me in some way. I plucked this off the New Books shelf at the library and what a pleasant surprise! Told almost exclusively in letters and emails but with some extraordinarily detailed descriptions of old photographs, it is a story of family secrets waiting to be discovered. Helene's mother died when Helene was only 4 so she doesn't remember her. Neither her father nor her stepmother will answer any of her questions about he ...more
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Written in epistolary form, this novel gives us insight into Helene & Stephane's lives as they search for answers to their parents past. I've said it before but I really like reading a novel that's just letters. This one had a little mystery to it. I really felt like I was on this journey with these two as they set out to open Pandora's box. It was a little sad when Helene & Stephane learn the truth but I enjoyed watching (reading) these two develop their own relationship through all the sadness ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, french
'Sometimes I wonder what 'truth' it is we're chasing after exactly, and what kind of state it will leave us in if we find it.'

Hélène Hivert is an archivist in Paris. She places a newspaper advertisement with a photograph, asking for information about the people in it. One of them is her mother, Nathalie, and then there are two men in the photography with her. It was taken in 1971 at a tennis tournament in Interlaken. Hélène's mother died when she was only three years old. She receives a response
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
This is an epistolary novel, meaning that the story is revealed through a series of correspondences; in this case, between Helene and Stephane.

Helene lost her mother at age 3, though details pertaining to her mother have always been shrouded in mystery, and the mere mention of her mother and the cause of her death had only been met with stony silence, discomfort and anger.

Now approaching middle age, Helene's father has died and she finds herself sorting through his papers, only to find an old ne
Debbie Robson
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every now and then it is wonderful to find a book that you can just grab and race through the pages. The sentences flow beautifully, there is no flipping backwards and forwards and the storyline keeps you intrigued. The People in the Photo is such a book. From the opening lines you are away. "The three figures in the photograph are frozen for ever, two men and a woman bathed in sunlight."
After the discovery of a newspaper clipping of the photo described above, Parisian archivist Hélène takes out
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The People in the Photo” is one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve read this year, in both its use of language and its format.

The epistolary format, using letters, e-mails and text messages, is both removed and intimate, building suspense while allowing the reader to carefully strip away the layers of two family histories. It matches the intensity of the chapters devoted solely to describing a photograph or a journal entry. All provide the reader with modest description and intimacy,
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written and very moving story about the importance of family identity and legacy. Full review here: ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
3.5 * rounded down.

This was a quick read. The first half read like a mystery with 84 Charing Cross Road echoes. The protagonists, Stephane and Helene, uncovered more and more photos and evidence of their respective parents' connections, while growing closer themselves. In the second half the mystery was clarified more by way of letters 'to be read in the event of my death', and conveniently discovered journals, and it lost the mystery atmosphere and just became very very sad.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My god, this sucked me dry. A random book I picked up at the book fair easily got to be one of the best damn books I read in a while. Hélène Gestern, I don't know you, but thank you. ...more
Lauren Albert
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found the book disappointing. I didn't think there was anything special about it as I'd hoped to. I found it predictable/ ...more
Grabbed me from the first page.

Never Spoilers.

The flow of this story was so natural. Great descriptions of photos that make you think you are viewing them. You want to find the answers with the MCs. I can see why this has won so many awards. One of my favorites of the year.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Poetic and sad.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put the book aside, I wanted to keep reading because I was pulled into the story of Hélène and Stéphane through their correspondence! Phenomenal!
Yvann S
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Our families' silence is a poison that infects everything it touches: our dreams, our fears, our entire adult lives. And it leaves us with nothing but questions to fall back on, thirty or forty years down the line."

From the blurb, because it's very accurate: Parisian archivist Hélène takes out a newspaper advert seeking information about her mother, who died when she was three, and the two men pictured with her in a photograph taken at a tennis tournament at Interlaken in 1971. Stéphane, a Swis
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