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Moon Tiger

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  6,704 Ratings  ·  518 Reviews
The elderly Claudia Hampton, a best-selling author of popular history; lies alone in a London hospital bed. Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness, but she imagines writing a history of the world. Instead, Moon Tiger is her own history, the life of a strong, independent woman, with its often contentious relations with family and friends. At its center ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 18th 1997 by Grove Press (first published 1987)
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Samadrita
Claudia Hampton speaks to me of wars fought in distant lands, of the ever-persistent forward march of humanity in the quest for collective betterment, of stories unknowingly buried forever in the catacombs of time and never unearthed, of the people we carry in our hearts wherever we go, of the history of the world intertwined with our own. Claudia tries to make sense of the cacophony of voices inside her head and outside, of conflicting opinions colliding violently creating sparks that burn down ...more
Laura
Jun 03, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. The nerdiness quotient in how I picked this book up is off the charts (it was quoted in an article I was reading for my thesis) but I can honestly say I have rarely made so wise a geeky decision. To read the summary on the back in a bookstore, I doubt I would have decided to read it. An old woman dying alone in a hospital reflects on her life. Call that a picker-upper. But the way she constructs her life: viewing it as a historian. Weaving the history of the world into her own exi ...more
B the BookAddict
Sep 06, 2016 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Shane Malcolm


This winner of 1987 Man Booker Prize probably should have won many more distinctions. The main character, Claudia, is anything but dull; she is irascible, unapologetic; a woman very much ahead of her time.

We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse; we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard. … I never cease to wonder at it. … That words are more durable than anything, that they blow wi
...more
Mary
Apr 20, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
Long before The English Patient there was this very taut novel about WWII in north Africa. There isn't a wasted word in the entire novel and while you may not always sympathize with the main character (Claudia), you will enjoy her razor-sharp wit. Her daughter is portrayed as a dull product of a love affair but Lively doesn't allow that to go on either, allowing the daughter to have her say. I've read this countless times because Lively is a master or rather mistress of economy with words and ye ...more
Aubrey
I've been musing on feminism and the prevalence of white supremacism in its most visible structure which no. Nope. Uh-uh. So, what does that leave me in terms of the where-do-we-go-from-here? Strange and terrifying and unthinkable places, judging from conversations both online and off, because if social justice is less realization and more Inception and a much deeper plain is called for than what is sustained by the majority of entertainment both canonical and otherwise, what are we allowed to a ...more
Elizabeth
Apr 28, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This book positively shimmered. I thought about it for days afterward, and not for any specific reason apart from sheer awe at this author's skill. This novel is perhaps the best book I've read all year. Her economy of phrase, wit, and ability to apply a dream-like sheen to a whole compendium of characters makes this book a strange journey, much like an odd dream that you wake up wondering, "was that real?"

Melki
Apr 07, 2015 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Late life reminiscences have been done before, though they are rarely as eloquent as this one.

Claudia lies abed, reexamining the years and the people with whom she spent them. She recalls the complex relationship with her brother Gordon. As a child, she had once asked God to eliminate him - painlessly but irreversibly, but as adults, they were more like a married couple, so closely tuned it was almost incestuous. She also fondly and sadly remembers her brief affair with Tom, the only man she ev
...more
Moses Kilolo
Jan 23, 2014 Moses Kilolo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The depth of this novel is amazing. Even though there are numerous points of view, and the main narrator does not follow a chronological account, every page of the book is a small piece of lovely reading pleasure.

This is not to say it is a quick read, sometimes some sections are so deep one wants to read them over again. The wisdom of looking into the motivations of mankind, their power to decide and suffer the consequence of those decisions is what Lively tackle’s in Moon Tiger. Caudia, the ma
...more
Terry
Feb 17, 2013 Terry rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book. It was tremendous. I wish I had someone to talk with about it. It's a constant deficiency in my life that I read something that moves me and there is no one around with whom I can discuss it.

I've only recently discovered Penelope Lively. I think I read a review of her book HOW IT ALL BEGAN in ArtForum. It was terrific and I decided I wanted to read the Man Booker winner, MOON TIGER. Even better. The subtly, the humor, the unique voice -- it is no surprise to me this bo
...more
David
"Moon Tiger", for which the author won the Booker prize, is a book that I could admire, but not like. The main protagonist, Claudia Hampton, an accomplished historian, lies dying in a London hospital bed and looks back upon her life. The resulting series of first-person flashbacks, interspersed with third-person accounts of the same episodes, coalesce into a tightly constructed kaleidoscopic view of Claudia's life which is impressive for the skill with which it is achieved, but ultimately left m ...more
Marc
I don't understand why this book does not appear in toplists. Agreed, it was awarded the Bookerprice in 1987 (before the great hypes), but seems to be forgotten since, whilst according to me it really is a pearl.
Maybe it is because the story appears to be a kind of pulp fiction: that of a remarkable woman, Claudia Hampton, looking back on her life, on her deathbed, and with a passionate love affaire as crucial ax. But don't get me wrong: this really is a very interesting book and even a tough re
...more
Thomas Edmund
May 24, 2014 Thomas Edmund rated it it was amazing
One thing that can be said of Booker Prize winners that you can never be sure what you will be in for reading one. Moon Tiger I found to have a strange appeal. The premise - the elderly narrator Claudia reaching the end of her life and 'writing' a book on the history of the world sounds intense and difficult. Oddly, despite being appropriately vivid, deep and meaningful, Moon Tiger is an comforting novel. I'm sure there are dozens (if not thousands) of novels out there with the message 'life goe ...more
Wendy Chard
Oct 08, 2011 Wendy Chard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moon Tiger has been one of my greatest discoveries to date. I loved this book immeasurably, and am grateful that it came to me at such a perfect time in my life (from the dusty shelves of an Oxfam bookshop), so that I could not only comprehend it as I did, but also could come away feeling significantly altered by it.

The story is of glorious Claudia Hampton, writer, historian, lover, mother, woman. But the story itself is secondary to its telling. What matters most here, or so it seems, are words
...more
Esdaile
Jun 24, 2012 Esdaile rated it really liked it
I do not think I would argue that this is good as a novel, depending on what one understands or expects if anything, from a novel. It is similar in theme to "Bruno's Dream" by Iris Murdoch, the account of a dying woman seen principally through her eyes, her reminiscences, the shifting chronology of her awareness, her memory of isolated images and scenes. The dying woman, who is undoubtedly very like the writer, has grown old with the century and this accounts reads like a brief encomium or swan- ...more
Cesca
Jan 04, 2013 Cesca rated it it was amazing
I cried. On public transport. Penelope Lively is that good. I urge you to read this. She's made a fantastic protagonist in Claudia Hampton; fiercely intelligent, beautiful, independent, believable. Claudia, who read History at Oxford like Lively, writes popular historical non-fiction and on her deathbead resolves to write 'a history of the world... And in the process, my own.' It sounds a bit self-aggrandising, but fear not: we are in the hands of a master.

It's beautifully, cleverly done. She lo
...more
Jana
Jul 18, 2016 Jana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have to give this one the full 5. Here are a few of the many reasons:
* Gorgeous writing. I copied entire passages into my phone and have reread them. I should have bought the book! My copy was from the library.
* I love well done nonlinear stories. This one starts with Claudia as an old woman at the end of her life and then through her memory we experience her past.
* And not just through HER memory. Because Penelope Lively has an amazing ability to switch perspectives and we also see from othe
...more
Stacey D.
Aug 11, 2016 Stacey D. rated it it was amazing
History is disorder, I wanted to scream at them -- death and muddle and waste. And here you sit cashing in on it and making patterns in the sand.

What a wonderful and complete surprise! This novel was the winner of the 1987 Booker Prize and it's easy to see why. As Claudia Hampton lies on her London deathbed, she relates to us lucky readers the story of her life in a series of emotional, sensitive, sometimes harsh, yet humorous and honest memories, or as she calls it, a history of the world. And
...more
S.
After finishing Heat Wave, which I greatly enjoyed, I quickly bought two more Lively books. One of them was Moon Tiger, which won the Booker Prize, making me assume (wrongly) that it would top Heat Wave.

I enjoyed this story and the way the narrative is constructed, swaying back and forth in time and shifting among narrators. Especially good was the introduction of the lover's diaries near the end. I was happy to find out what the eponymous Moon Tiger was - a burning spiral used on North African
...more
Greta
Mar 01, 2011 Greta rated it liked it
Recommended to Greta by: Ruth and her sources
Shelves: fiction
I liked this book but I didn't. I liked the author's use of language because she writes in a readable style that is flowing and evocative. She has a way with words that creates images and conveys ideas that are unique and clear. Occasionally a statement would leap off the page, like: "Wars are fought by children. Conceived by their mad demonic elders and fought by boys." Or: "We all act as hinges - fortuitous links between other people." These ideas made me pause and say, hmmm, yes. I also enjoy ...more
Heather
Apr 02, 2012 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed in this book. It was promoted as a "life-changing book" on NPR's "You must read this," but the only way it changed my life is by preventing me from reading any of the hundreds of other more interesting and meaningful books on my list as I dragged my feet through its 200-odd pages over nearly a month. Yes, the writer-on-her-death-bed protagonist has a few interesting revelations about perspective as she looks back over her life, but most of the book is spent describing her ...more
Polly
Mar 05, 2011 Polly rated it it was ok
The deathbed retrospective story of an unconventional female reporter, Claudia Hampton, during World War II who covers the fighting in Egypt and finds brief love with a soldier there. It is also about her complicated and less than admirable relationships with her own daughter, mother, brother, sister-in-law in England and sometimes in the US. Some of the writing is excellent. There are times scenes are told from the perspectives of two or three of the participants/observers and that is very inte ...more
Vonia
Man Booker Prize Winner. My third Penelope Lively novel. Unfortunately, my least favorite, although I can certainly see why this one was the most critically lauded. It is historical fiction, important Works War II insight, an intimate look into what it is like to be in action, behind enemy lines (Tom S's journal entries, mostly dedicated to Claudia, are incredibly well written, poetically describing the loneliness, ridiculousness, craziness, zoning in (effect), and practically black out inducing ...more
Ayelet Waldman
Aug 27, 2014 Ayelet Waldman rated it liked it
This book is lovely. The time switches are beautifully done.
Lynn
Dec 24, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Full review at Smoke & Mirrors: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/201.... This is a breathtakingly poignant work. Such a statement of both the inadequacies of life and the profundities of history, and vice versa--how both are intertwined and eventually woven into the tapestry that is humanity. I have no idea how Ms. Lively came to write this, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable and realistically enlightening read! To be able to build this book from one's imagination! It was heartbreaking while ...more
Deepti
Feb 05, 2014 Deepti rated it it was amazing
Shelves: powerful-words
This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read in the recent times. The plot is simple - Claudia, at the age of 76 lies in her death bed and tells us about the people she carries with her in her heart. Every character has been depicted at a very great detail and as we read this book, we get close not just with Claudia in her truest sense, but also with her brother Gordon, her daughter Lisa, Jasper, and Tom.

I absolutely loved Claudia's character. She is unwilling to change her attitude de
...more
Darlene Teresa
Aug 17, 2011 Darlene Teresa rated it liked it
Okay, I know I should LOVE this book. It seems most people do. I found the main character unlikeable. I guess that kind of character development is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, it did not enthrall me or keep me wanting to turn the next page. If there's going to be a disagreeable or unlikeable main character, I would think that in itself would be interesting and worth reading about, but I just could not 'want' to know more about her. Very frustrating.

I normally read very quickly,
...more
Philip
Mar 30, 2012 Philip rated it it was amazing
Time is undoubtedly linear, but our perception of it is not. And for Claudia Hampton, the principal character of Penelope Lively’s novel, Moon Tiger, time, manifest as her life, is a veritable jumble of memories, unfulfilled ambition, probabilities and denied possibilities. She is confused, at least on the outside, and lying infirm in a nursing home bed. But her mind is alive with a life lived, a life she distils to share with us.

Claudias confusion, however, is only an external phenomenon. Inter
...more
Jon
Nov 25, 2012 Jon rated it it was amazing
I recently read How it All Began, a relatively new book by the same author. I gave it a so-so review, but I noted on the cover that she had won the Booker Prize for this earlier one, so I decided to find out if I thought it was better. It was much better. It dealt with many of the same themes--aging and death, the slipshod nature of memory, history, narrative, and the interrelation of history and fiction. Such a description makes it sound boring. And summarizing the plot will have the same effec ...more
Rosana
Sep 28, 2014 Rosana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I was to drive back to the farm this morning, after a few days in The City. But a snow storm blew in with more intensity than expected and I used it as an excuse to stay put for one more day and read.

Moon Tiger is my first book of 2014, also the first book in a reading challenge for the coming 12 months – to read books set in various countries around the world.

My thoughts about it are at the moment still very inordinate, but out of laziness I will list them in point form, avoiding the effort t
...more
Sarah
Dec 14, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Ok, so I'm mildly obsessed by this novel, which won the Booker Prize (now Man Booker) in the 1980s. I just re-read it for about the fifth or sixth time. That's easy to do because Lively writes with incredible compression and it's a fairly short book. Dying in a hospital bed in London, elderly Claudia Hampton is looking back on a life as a writer of popular history books. Announcing to a nurse that she's "writing a history of the world," she proceeds to recounts her own life history (as a war cor ...more
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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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“Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.” 1277 likes
“The place didn't look the same but it felt the same; sensations clutched and transformed me. I stood outside some concrete and plate-glass tower-block, picked a handful of eucalyptus leaves from a branch, crushed them in my hand, smelt, and tears came to my eyes. Sixty-seven-year-old Claudia, on a pavement awash with packaged American matrons, crying not in grief but in wonder that nothing is ever lost, that everything can be retrieved, that a lifetime is not linear but instant. That, inside the head, everything happens at once.” 14 likes
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