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Judgment Day
Penelope Lively
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Judgment Day

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  231 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Penelope Lively is one of England's greatest living writers, whom The New York Times Book Review has called "blessed with the gift of being able to render matters of great import with a breath, a barely audible sigh, a touch. The result is wonderful writing." Judgment Day takes us into the life of Clare Paling, who has just moved with her family to Laddenham, a seemingly d ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published January 1st 1980)
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Jul 27, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short novel featuring a number of interlocking characters in a small village called Laddenham. The ancient village Church stands as a character, one which is in need of repair and it is this repair which is, perhaps, an underlying metaphor. Each of the main characters and even some of the minor ones limp woundedly through their lives or, with a couple of them, they forge ahead rather like those people who run from their cars after crashes and get a litle way along on the adrenalin rush before co ...more
Oct 14, 2008 Hope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Penelope Lively's books, and I always find it so hard to describe why. They are generally quiet, without the bluster or bombast of so many novels, yet they are not cloying or claustrophobic. They are observational, but not overly full of description. Generally, I have to like a character in a book to like the book, but I don't feel that need with Lively's books. Certainly, there are characters I empathize with, and others that I dislike immensely, but I don't latch on to any one person.

Jul 12, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a deceptively slight and short story of village life in England. But alongside village life we get an examination of human vulnerability in the face of death, tragedy, judgement. Sounds grandiose and pretentious? Well it isn't - because it is done with such a light touch. Different characters show different aspects of human 'coping' with reality. The vicar has to confront his lack of fervour and his inability to make an impression on those around him. The clever middle-class mum discover ...more
Lauren Albert
Mar 06, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In this book, judgment day does not come after life but during. We judge each other; we judge ourselves. Lively's vision of faith in this book is a sad one--moments of fate show its futility and human beings' kindnesses or lack thereof, seem unrelated to their religious leanings.
The characters are well drawn and the story quietly compelling.
Nov 26, 2014 Serena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Good book. Love her writing style!
Mar 07, 2017 Ma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Greatly enjoyed this book, Lively's writing really skewers the characters and their backgrounds.
Paul Secor
Penelope Lively knows the characters she creates, and when I've finished reading one of her books, I know them too. To me, that's one sign of a fine writer.
Judgement Day is one of my favorite Lively's - perfectly written.
Elizabeth Bradley
Dec 22, 2010 Elizabeth Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've decided to embrace the theology of Penelope Lively. As set forth by the agnostic heroine of this amazing little book, it is an eminently rational and humane belief, rooted in the heroine's staunch insistence on the truth and power not of a deity, but of words. And I can't argue with that.
Jul 17, 2010 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, read-in-2013
"Judgment Day takes us into the life of Clare Paling, who has just moved with her family to Laddenham, a seemingly drowsy village enlivened by sideshows of adultery and gossip. An avowed agnostic who has a preoccupation with the savagery of fate, Clare is nonetheless caught up in the restoration of the church, even inciting the villagers to put on a pageant that re-creates the church's dark past. With flawless precision, Lively brings the village and its inhabitants to life as an unpardonable de ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper-books
(#39 in my Year of Reading Women)
I'd never read anything by Penelope Lively before - I'd heard the name a lot, but had no idea what to expect .... I think from the name Penelope (probably because of Penelope Keith) I expected something effete, upper middle class and a little bit vacuous. But I was completely wrong - well, it IS a bit middle class, I suppose - but the writing in this book is top notch. It's a little bit objective, standing to one side from the characters and the action, but it's
Judgement Day is a strange book that I somehow failed to engage with fully. It's a tale of unfulfilled lives set around a small village church 'perilously sited...beside the Amoco garage, its grey stone extinguished by lime green and tangerine plastic bunting flapping along the perimeter of the adjoining forecourt'. Published in 1980, it feels very much of its time, and there's an aura of failure and frustration about the characters and their environment. The urgent need for repairs to the churc ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Gillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Penelope Lively's books so much because of the warmth they convey and ability to draw me in. I actually read this years ago and was the first thing I downloaded on Kindle. It is an ejoyable short read which, particularly where the awkward vicar and the Waspish Mrs Paling were concerend, I found very humourous!
I beleived the story to be set some time around 1980- we are given a feel for the time as well as the setting which helped me create an atmosphere for the book. The church is one of
Sara Van Dyck
Dec 15, 2013 Sara Van Dyck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The residents of Laddingham, a small English village, barely know each other. Unexpectedly, they find a common purpose in planning to restore their ancient church, and then in an ensuing crisis. Working together, they learn about each other, privately reflect on the pains, the narrowness or selfishness of their own lives, and emerge sadder but wiser, or just sadder. Sydney, the church warden who lost his wife and child in the war, isolates himself, yet suddenly realizes: “It was one thing to hav ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Dec 28, 2009 Audra (Unabridged Chick) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: place-uk
This is a story about a small town; like all stories about small towns, the secret lives of the inhabitants are more sordid than anyone would care to admit. Lively's strength comes from her exploration of these secrets, the deft way she comments on class, gender, and education. Clare Paling, the newest resident of Laddenham, is an avowed atheist who loves the language of the King James Bible; her passion for art spurs her to be part of a committee focused on restoring the squat local church. The ...more
May 21, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book with its use of the everyday to illustrate deeper themes and its ability to understand and sympathise with differing points of view. It was also good on making the children real characters instead of weak accessories.
But....I found the ending almost unbearably sad to the point where it almost spoiled my enjoyment of the book. Partly this because the dramatic, tragic ending seemed to me not to fit well with the rest of the gentler pace of the book even though there was some inci
Sep 11, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History persists and keeps playing out in people's lives, and it isn't always picturesque, although most people, like the amusingly annoying Miss Bellingham, much prefer the theme park version of it (quaint costumes, heritage buildings, maypole dancing). People are just as complicated and messy, hard, often impossible, to know, mysterious to us, yet in small moments we can see someone astonishingly clearly. And the whole thing is messy and shocking and joyous and painful and beautiful, sometimes ...more
Steve Mayer
This book would remind me of a Barbara Pym novel if I had ever read one. It is very much about a church, and one of the central characters is a vicar. And its concerns are, if not religious, then very much concerned with fate and faith. And, indeed, fate intervenes in this novel in surprisingly many ways, most of them with disastrous consequences for those concerned. (This is the third novel I have read in the past couple of months in which some of the characters are killed in the London blitz.) ...more
Patrick Ladbrooke
A lifelike view of parochial life in an English village in the 1960s. George Radwell, the inept and somewhat seedy vicar in his mid forties, wrestles with a sexual infatuation with married atheist parishioner Clare Paling. The church restoration committee throws them even closer together and the tension grows, as does the intrigue as to whether a relationship will be consummated or not, and Ms Lively keeps us waiting until the very last page to find the answer. Packed with great characters, accu ...more
Ma'lis Wendt
Apr 26, 2012 Ma'lis Wendt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Laddenham, a far London suburban village, Judgment Day explores the life of the diverse neighbors living around the village green, adjacent to the old St. Peter and Paul church. Lively tells her story from the viewpoint of the various families with lots of explanation of beliefs and unbelief. The church is in need of repair and a village committee plans an unusual festival with tragic results. I enjoyed this quiet book with all its many facets.
Julie Sternberg
Sep 18, 2013 Julie Sternberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I love the way Penelope Lively conveys a scene with pitch perfection from different characters' perspectives. I love how her characters spring to life in a matter of paragraphs. I love that she raises big issues (faith, the nature of history, what truly matters, what lingers through time) through a story focused on one small neighborhood, in one moment in time. And her use of language! Genius.
Sep 01, 2014 Elke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. After I so enjoyed 'How it all began,' I was looking forward to another Penelope Lively novel. For some reason, I had trouble getting into this one. The characters - the vicar in a small English town, a bored SAHM, the project of a church renovation didn't draw me in as much as in 'How it all began' (could it be because I tried to read it on a trip?). Still, the book had many moments of sheer beauty, interesting thoughts on religion and atheism, sharp, funny portrayals of people.
Jul 14, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a recent Penelope Lively binge. She's my version of Maeve Binchy. Better writer, easy to get caught up in her stories. I like her female protagonists who are always prickly, never goody two shoes and usually acerbic in their judgments of the people around them. MOON TIGER will always be my favorite of hers, but the others are engaging.
Sep 28, 2015 Daryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second book by PL who is rapidly moving up my list of favourite authors. Great characters and an engaging story which could be read at face value but which offers a lot more just below the surface. Intelligent and engaging writing.
Dec 18, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book and the characters, but felt it ended too abruptly. I would have liked it to continue with more details. However, I thought the author did a good job of leaving you with a clear picture of the directions the characters were taking.
Oct 10, 2012 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another thought-provoking, realistic book by Penelope Lively, one of my favorite authors by far. This one is very sad, too - but well worth reading. Lively writes so well! It's a delight to read her words. You feel less lonely after you've read one of Lively's books.
May 13, 2012 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. Pe4nelope Lovely writes beautifully. Full of great empathetic characters.
Hina S
Re-Read it on January 19, 2012
Re-Read it on February 22, 2015
Re-Read it on May 15, 2017
I enjoyed the story even though I didn't really like any of the characters.
Feb 26, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lively at her best - insightful as always.
May 13, 2014 Noniebarnes1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy reading Penelope Lively and this book didn't disappoint me. it was thoughtful and moving.
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Penelope Lively CBE (born March 17, 1933) is a prolific, popular and critically acclaimed author of fiction for both children and adults. She has been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize, winning once for Moon Tiger in 1987.

Born in Cairo in 1933, she spent her early childhood in Egypt, before being sent to boarding school in England at the age of twelve. She read Modern History at St Anne
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