The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash is the story of Claire, the daughter of a legendary landscape photographer and the mother of a talented young painter, who feels sandwiched between two “geniuses” despite a successful career as a commercial photographer. Dismissed as untalented at a young age by her father, Claire finds herself re-examining her life and what she thought she knew about his creative process after his death.
Claire’s whole life has been shaped by her father’s assessment (and abandonment) of her, and his death forces her to confront her ambivalence about the path she has chosen. Nash does an excellent job of portraying Claire’s loss of vision as an artist as well as her tempestuous relationship with her talented daughter. Although some of their interactions made me cringe, it was only because they seemed so painfully real. Nash asks big questions in this novel, to which there are no easy answers: Where does talent/creativity come from? What does it take to achieve success as an artist? What is the price of genius?
Unfortunately, the ending of the book was a bit of a let-down. I felt that Nash shortchanged Claire by rushing the ending, relying on somewhat clichéd images to provide a tidy end without fully exploring what I thought were some of the most interesting elements of the story: what Claire was going to do about what she had discovered about her father and how she was going to establish a healthier relationship with her daughter. Despite this, The Only True Genius in the Family is a worthwhile and thought-provoking read.
For other reviews, visit these blogs:
A Reader’s Respite • At Home with Books • Booking Mama • Maw Books • Peeking Between the Pages • S. Krishna’s Books • The Compulsive Reader
For author interviews, pop over to these sites:
At Home with Books • Maw Books • Mother Daughter Book Club • The Compulsive Reader • The Urban Muse
Thank you to Jennie and Berkley Books for sending me this book to review.
This is the third book I review for the New Authors Challenge.