Obsessively neat Lily, a writer who writes about writers, is asked to interview the enigmatic Rita Boothe, journalist, photographer, self-styled culinary expert, and wit. Sitting in Rita's living room, leafing through a book of photographs from the early '70s, Lily comes across a picture of an incandescently sexy young woman sitting in the back of a limousine, swigging Jack Daniels.
It is her mother, Mattie. Lily isn't shocked. She's envious. She wants to be like that - beautiful, exuberant. Mattie, though, is no longer the meltingly gorgeous creature she was. She and her husband scrape by and bicker. Upstairs in their neglected house, Grandpa flirts on the Internet. Marie, Lily's sister, is facing a custody suit. Rory, the brother, hates coming home - those endless catch-up conversations. Usually it is Lily, the dutiful daughter, who sorts out the family. She knows she's flawed but boringly so.
Now she wants to be flawed in an interesting way, to be a woman of wicked mystery and intrigue. Like the one in the photograph. Secrets of a Family Album is a beautifully written novel that explores the struggles and triumphs of one extraordinary family.