BOOK REVIEW: THE BIG PICTURE

I read this book some two weeks ago, and thought the plot was quite interesting, especially how the twist came beyond my 360 expectations, different from what I perceived from the book title.

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According to the book’s summary, it says:

On the face of it, Ben Bradford is a standard Wall Street hotshot – six figure income, wife and two young kids straight out of a Gap catalogue. But with the WASP lifestyle comes the sting: Ben hates it. When he realises that the state of his marriage has less to do with baby-induced sleeplessness and more to do with a wife who’s playing outside the ground, “a moment of sadness” provides Ben with the “opportunity” to redesign his life. But as the roller coaster trajectory of his new existence takes hold, he begins to question the price of fulfillment. Because finding yourself means nothing when you’re pretending to be someone else.

Based on just the summary above, what would you have thought of how the story penned out to be?

My interpretation was: Okay, Ben wasn’t happy with his life; and when he found out his wife was cheating, they filed a divorce. He quit his job, left his old life, and went on to create a life he always wanted. Though I gotta admit I missed out reading the last bit there in the summary, hence I didn’t think too much into him questioning if it was worth it or he had become someone else (another identity).

You’d think that as with the title of the book was that he finally saw the BIG PICTURE, and did not mind leaving his kick-ass paying job that comes with the glamour being on wallstreet, instead settled and start anew for something he always wanted to be: a photographer… which was true.

HOWEVER, the “opportunity” surfaced that allowed him to “re-design: himself was not just the divorce (yes the wife did eventually ask for one), BUT it was that he accidentally murdered the guy (Gary Summers) his wife was sleeping with behind his back!

This “moment of sadness” was clearly misinterpreted here. For in the book, it did not seem like Ben dwelled too much into being sad, I mean he was completely taken aback by his (murdering) action, and even imagined ten steps ahead of what would happen if came forward and confessed. In the book, a small part revealed that his wife would testify against him if this went to court. But Ben, being the lawyer that he is, found a way to get out of all these mess, amidst the shock.

It was really well planned and thought of. Seeing that Gary, who’s also an aspiring photographer, had no one else in his life (as his parents had passed away) save for the agencies he applied for jobs and Ben’s wife whom he was seeing, Ben took careful steps to ensure that Gary has “left town”. From mandling his correspondences, finances (like paying off Gary’s debts), changing his very driving license picture into Gary’s by pretending Gary lost his etc.

Ben also took equally careful steps to “remove” his identity. By this I mean he “murdered” himself. He borrowed a good friend’s yacht – as they lent it to him out of sympathy of the divorce – and blew it up making it seem like an accident in the middle of the night (at the planned location, at that) when he knew for sure rescue would come forth later.

What is interesting though, is that, in the yacht also lies Gary’s dead body, where Ben transported it after hiding it out many days in his freezer. Ben destroyed Gary’s body in all ways possible, through gasoline I think, making it almost impossible to recognize by the time rescue came. Meanwhile, he swam to the shore, and hopped on to rent a car and spent days and weeks going off just idly, waiting for official news that Ben Bradford is now dead.

After news ruled out completely that there’s no foreplay, and that Ben is dead, Ben is now Gary Summers, on his quest to be a photographer. I’ll start referring to Ben as Gary now for convenience.

Gary finally settled down in this small town, and started doing little shoots capturing human portraits. Little did he know what life had in store for him in this down. A local hotshot journalist revealed his pictures, the local newspaper loved it and locked Gary down for a set of his pictures to appear in the papers. On the love front, Gary got down to dating the picture editor of the newspaper.

As words spread around town, including a local agent who had planned for an art exhibition to show case his pictures, Gary’s truly BIG break came when he was caught being the first to capture a big fire scene at the mountains. The fire was a big one even from a national footage perspective, and Gary’s pictures showed also real emotions from the fire fighters. In just moments, nation-wide news agencies were using his pictures, and started vying for him.

From the beginning, Gary had been very cautious in talking to people, accepting interviews and his pictures taken. One thing for sure though’s that he is now famous, doing what he like since a young boy, though under a name and identity not his.

At the opening of his art exhibition, his ex wife Beth, has turned up all the way from New York with the man she was now dating, an ex Wall Street who runs an art gallery, who has taken an interest in Gary’s work. Gary (or Ben) ran away as he heard his wife calling out his name. He ran all the way back to his house, got the car keys (with the journalist somehow ended up in the car as well as he found out Gary’s secret) and drove all the way to the mountains. As he kept on driving, an oncoming truck came… Gary managed to escape through the passenger door as the car went airborne and landed on fire. The journalist’s body was found inside, but was too badly damaged to be identified.

Gary Summers is now dead. Oh, the irony.

So really, in a way, Ben really did manage to start life anew. (He did so under a completely new identity with the picture editor of the newspaper, btw as they moved into a new city)

Whoa, this is MORE like a summary of the book, rather than my two cents or review on it. Oops.

Now onto my thoughts. What do I think of it? It’s a great plot, something I’d not have though of for sure. I’m not that “out of the box”, you see. Even after those training of reading countless books of Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham….

One thing for sure though, I know I would not be able to do what Ben did. I will not be able to live with not confessing something so major, not able to live under a different identity knowing it’s not my original self. I can’t. I had fun reading it nonetheless!

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