Friday, June 17, 2016

TLC Book Tours Review: The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

Title: The Woman in the Photo 
Author: Mary Hogan 
Format: ARC
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: June 14, 2016
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.

Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?"

My Two Cents:

"The Woman in the Photo" is set in two time periods. Elizabeth, living in the late 1800s, is lucky enough to be among the wealthy set of those who come to vacation in Johnstown, PA. She rubs elbows with the likes of the Carnegies and the Fricks among other titans of energy. When a tragic flood decimates the town, Elizabeth will have to find new courage. In the present day, Lee is a young woman who was adopted as a baby in a closed adoption. One small clue (the photo alluded to in the title) will lead her on a journey to understand where she came from.

I was definitely more drawn to the historic story as I often am in books told in two times. Families like the Carnegies and Fricks fascinate me. I ate up the History Channel series, The Men Who Built America, and would love to see more of them in historical fiction, my genre of choice. I loved the rich world that the author created around these people who could afford leisure. I also appreciated how the author was able to show their lifestyles in contrast with the people who actually lived in Johnstown. Elizabeth's story is so interesting and really kept me engaged!

Having the book told in two times worked but I really wanted to know more about Johnstown. While Lee's story is interesting, it was not nearly as interesting as Elizabeth's. I did like seeing how the author brought the two stories together.

The writing of the book was okay. I liked how much detail the author included in the historical part of the book to include the inclusion of historical photographs from the time period (a very nice touch indeed)! The narrative often veered into telling too much rather than showing. The book definitely could have been streamlined a bit!



  1. Hi Meg: Love your thought-provoking comments. Especially your connection to Elizabeth Haberlin and her world. I miss hanging out with her every day!

  2. I've read a bit about the Johnstown Flood - what a fascinating and challenging story it was.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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