I bought this book together with Lucy in the Sky and The Longest Holiday at The Book Depository. I decided to have a mini-Paige Toon marathon, so after reading Lucy in the Sky, I immediately moved on to Pictures of Lily, hoping that it will be as good as the previous book I’ve read.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
I think of you, then. I think of you every day. But usually in the quietest part of the morning, or the darkest part of the night. Not when my boyfriend of two years has just proposed. I look up at Richard with his hopeful eyes. ‘Lily?’ he prompts. It’s been ten years, but it feels like only yesterday that you left. How can I say yes to Richard with all my heart when most of it has always belonged to you? I take a deep breath and will myself to speak…
Ten years ago when Lily was just sixteen, she fell in love with someone she really shouldn’t have fallen in love with. Now, living in Sydney and engaged to another man, she can’t forget the one that got away. Then her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to make a decision that will break her heart – and the heart of at least one of the men who love her.
The storyline has been made apparent by the premise of the book. In a way, we are already presented with an idea of what the protagonist is struggling with in her life – specifically, her love life. What I’m more curious is how pictures, based on the title, would fit into the story. I’m not exactly sure if photography will play a major role in it, but more or less, I’m guessing it would.
For a change, the story now sets in Australia. Paige Toon surely never misses out in including the infamous kangaroos and koalas Australia is known for. But she doesn’t limit herself to just that. Her vivid descriptions of the strikingly beautiful places Lily visits somehow deepened my longing to go on a trip to Australia once again. Moreover, I’m also able to witness the difference in the British language and Australian language. It’s fun to read how people use different terms for a specific object. Now what lacks are the actual accents. LOL.
I’m actually happy that I made the right decision to read Lucy in the Sky first before Pictures of Lily. Because apparently, some of the characters I met in the previous book appear in this one. Readers will be able to recognize familiar names and get a glimpse of what happened in their lives after the book. Lucy in the Sky is still fresh in my memory, so it’s nice to see how life turned out for Sam, Molly, Nathan, and Lucy. I guess, in literal terms, lives of characters don’t necessarily end even after closing the book. They continue to live on not just in the imaginations of readers, but in the lives of other characters of other books, too.
Despite the connection they have with Lily, the story still centers on her. The book is divided into two parts – the time when she was still sixteen and her life at the present. As the story unfolds her past, readers get to understand the strong feelings Lily feels for Ben. It’s evident that the bond they share is something not to be ignored easily. Even I become invested in their friendship. I find myself looking forward to the scenes of them spending time together. But of course, a story won’t be a story without a conflict. And this conflict has forced them to walk different paths.
The second part, the present, happens ten years after. Here, we find Lily being asked by Richard (yes, the Richard we know from Lucy in the Sky) for a hand in marriage. Although she said yes, she still can’t seem to move on from Ben. Stuck in the past, Lily tries to avoid anything that would remind her of him. And then she’s put in a situation that catches her off guard. Now more confused, Lily needs to solve her dilemma as soon as possible.
Once again, Paige Toon offers realistic characters and situations that would easily relate to the readers. The dynamism in Lily’s character makes this book more enjoyable to read. She has her flaws and the challenges she faces justify her actions. I may not totally relate to her situation, but Paige Toon’s narration helps me understand Lily more. Right from the beginning, her passions in caring for animals and photography have shaped her personality. Readers could see her grow into a more mature person and how her views in some aspects of life alter as she grows older.
They say that when it comes to love, age doesn’t matter. People will surely have different opinions – some would react positively, while some wouldn’t. Here, Paige Toon demonstrates both and surprisingly, she is still able to deliver the story well. Pictures of Lily is definitely one of the memorable stories I’ve read. I am so engrossed in it that I couldn’t put the book down. As I read through it, I can’t help but root for one man over the other. Evidently, this book is for the keeps. Can’t wait to read The Longest Holiday next.