Summary and book reviews of Snapshots by William Norris

Snapshots

by William Norris

Snapshots by William Norris
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2001, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2002, 304 pages

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Book Summary

Norris lays bare the secrets that family members keep from themselves and each other, and ultimately tells a hopeful story about the bonds of flesh and blood and shared experience. A story about the real, hard-won joy of family.

Snapshots engages our endless fascination with what goes on behind other people's closed doors. It's that particularly American brand of literature that puts the ideal middle-class suburban family under a microscope and exposes the heartaches, fears, and secrets not visible to the naked eye.

William Norris's first novel is a portrait of the Mahoneys as they appear in 1997, then working back through twenty-five years, filling in the rich, deep hues of the life that has shaped their relationships. And in the shadows of alcoholism, homosexuality, and mental illness, the Mahoneys love and hate one another, save one another, and break one another's hearts. Norris lays bare the secrets that mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters keep from themselves and each other, and ultimately tells a hopeful story about the bonds of flesh and blood and shared experience. A story about the real, hard-won joy of family.

SNAPSHOTS: A NOVEL
1997

The mother, always an early riser, finds it difficult to sleep much past six as she grows older. This day, Christmas Eve morning, she is up once again with the seabirds; their songs melding with the creaks and moans of this old beach house, winterized, finally, for these retirement years. Careful not to wake her still slumbering husband, she stretches her limbs, eases to a sitting position, slowly gets to her feet. This effort, she thinks, is what it is to be old.

Half a world away, Sean, the only son, hails a black cab in a London already empty for Christmas. "Heathrow Terminal Four," he tells the driver. He settles back to watch the city shrink down into suburbs as the cab shoots out the M1. Molly, the woman he loves, the woman who he still cannot believe loves him, left earlier, bound for her own family in Ireland. She’ll join him in a few days, her seventh or eighth trip over now, and he knows he’ll find himself marveling at how much he ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Norris renders anecdotes of family conflict and nurturing some trivial, others tragic with energy and compassion ... the collective portrait of a changing family unit has complexity and validity.

Author Blurb Katharine Weber, author of The Music Lesson
Snapshots is a vivid family portrait, illuminating as it does the strange and complex relationship between past and present. William Norris has a wonderful gift for capturing those ordinary gestures which, like snapshots in a family album, retrospectively emerge as significant and telling in the lives of engaging and authentic characters. An auspicious debut.

Reader Reviews

Anonymous
Andrew
Snapshots tells the story of the Mahoneys, a
contemporary Irish-Catholic family from suburban New
Jersey. First time novelist William Norris draws a
convincing portrait of a nuclear family, one that will
especially resonate with readers who came ...   Read More

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