Adele Parks on the unexpected joy of old photos during lockdown

Adele Parks is a multi-million-selling female fiction author who has written 21 novels. His latest novel, Both of You, is now available and is arguably one of the best detective novels from 2021. Here, she reveals how the coronavirus pandemic caused her to reflect on her life and take a trip down memory lane.

There was little benefit to foreclosure, but it’s worth stopping to celebrate the ones that do exist. For me, that meant I could finally focus on those tedious tasks my hustle and bustle life had always kept me from, like sorting my photo albums.

I realized that during containment I could upload my digital photos and order prints online. I think we are all now enjoying the joy of a much anticipated package in the mail, right! And, because I had so much more time, I could really savor my old shots, the ones that had languished in boxes for decades and never reached the high status of being lovingly put into an album.

“Placing photos in albums was like a tribute to times I took for granted”

I had no idea how incredibly joyful it would be to walk the road to memory with these bundles of photos. Granted, there were many subjects with their eyes closed, or out of focus or overexposed, and sometimes people were out of focus because they had moved just as the camera was clicked. But, despite all these distractions and flaws, these photos were perfect.

photos pasted on a wall

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a time when it was difficult to look to the future with certainty, I found it very comforting to look back. Reflection is not something I have ever spent a lot of time on. I write a novel a year, I have family, friends, I support charities, and I have lots of hobbies. I’ve always been someone who asks, “What’s next? “. Now I have found that taking the time to remember what happened before is incredibly encouraging and helpful.

“In the past, I had been through so many rich experiences, always too ready to embark on the next thing”

It was a joy to remember the brilliant vacations spent at the beaches and bustling theme parks when my son was younger, my husband’s hair darker and my stomach firmer. Carefully placing photos in albums seemed like a ritual to me, a tribute to a time that I perhaps took for granted. I have relived parties, important birthdays, nightlife and trips to exciting cosmopolitan cities. In the past, I had been through so many rich experiences, always too ready to rush into the next thing. These memories underscored my good fortune.


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(Image credit: Avenir)

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I was careful not to let my gratitude slip into something like nostalgia for the past. I didn’t want to blame the curtailed present or, worse yet, the desperation for the future. The past is over and although it is still very tempting to romanticize it, I resisted.

During this difficult time, I remembered other difficult times in my life and remembered that I had overcome them. My photo albums reminded me that I survived divorce and a period of being a single mother. In the past, I have lost dear friends and family and overcame health issues. The thought ‘even that will pass’ kept coming back to me, which was a huge comfort. I am resilient and my old photos have shown me that.

I also discovered that I could be nicer to myself than I had been when the pictures were taken. My response to seeing myself in a photo has always been self-critical, but I could be more indulgent to the girl in these dated shots. I didn’t focus on my fun hairstyles, chubby baby face, or flat chest like I most certainly did back then. I looked back and felt real affection for myself naive, sometimes clumsy, not fully formed. I now see my clothes were fabulous, my fat baby cute, my crazy hairstyles fun. It wasn’t that important what I looked like, as I was focusing on what was happening in the photo and letting happy memories wake up.

“I felt a real affection for the naive, sometimes clumsy, not fully formed”

I promised myself that from now on, when someone takes a photo, I will no longer worry about wrinkles or unflattering angles. I will simply appreciate the fact that a special moment is captured and immortalized. I’m so glad my hilarious’ 80s outfits were!

You two by Adele Parks

Adele’s latest novel explores the story of Leigh Fletcher and Kai Janssen. We meet two seemingly happy women from very different worlds, both of whom disappear, seemingly into midair. DC Clements is the man who investigates the missing persons cases, and while he knows these cases may not be related, he feels like these two women are somehow related. He becomes determined to uncover the obscure truth behind the disappearances – and what follows is a twist you won’t see coming. A great novel for fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins.

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