This book has an English Patient feel to it. The smell of colonialism is spread like a thin layer of sweat upon the story, especially the early years of Prudence. The British as the invaders, the foreigner attempting to control the fate of another country, as usual.
The title is a little misleading, because the photographer’s wife is really just an afterthought. Prudence is the main focus throughout the story. As a child, then as a teen and as an adult.
I liked the subtle parallels between Prudence and Skip, and Prudence and her father. Whether she realises it or not she actually treats her child with the same level of contempt and neglect.
I have to say I am not sure why the rape scene was necessary. It was superfluous to the story, and there was no follow-up whatsoever, so what was the point? Just a shock factor or was it to show the carelessness of Ashton? Surely her witnessing the violence by Lofty was sufficient enough to make the same point. The way she slips into an abusive relationship and her erratic behaviour can be explained by both the neglect and the traumatic events she experiences.
In the end this is a story about politics, betrayal, spies and morality. It’s about the lines people cross in the name of war and political skirmishes. For me it didn’t come together as well as it could have.