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Preview — How It All Began by Penelope Lively
How It All Began
How It All Began is the wonderful new novel from Booker Prize winner Penelope Lively
When . . . Charlotte is mugged and breaks her hip, her daughter Rose cannot accompany her employer Lord Peters to Manchester, which means his niece Marion has to go instead, which means she sends a text to her lover which is intercepted by his wife, which is . . . just the beginning in t
While the premise of this book --the butterfly effect -- is intriguing, the execution was a real turn off. Incomplete sentences and a very British style (and I love England!!) kept me from getting into it. Take the first page:
"...A face is alongside hers. Woman. Nice woman." Or another sentence a few pages later: "So. Just what one didn't want. Being a burden and all that. What one had hoped to avoid." Ugh!
Sentences are filled with ellipses and narrations are changed ab ...more
Ever since I turned the last page of Penelope Lively's Booker Prize winning novel Moon Tiger nearly 25 years ago, I was hooked. Her peek inside modern British culture was a look at a world that probably no longer exists. Lively's characters are complex--especially her women--and drive the story; I've often envisioned the conversations we'd share. And so The Road to Lichtfield, The Photograph, and Moon Tiger remain some of my favorite reading memories. The author is now eighty and I'd thought she ...more
Opening this Penelope Lively book I was from the start taken by the character of Charlotte and a feeling of familiarity and appreciation didn't leave for the rest of the novel. Set primarily in London, the scenario and the people felt to me like I could have met them and the mugging... well, I have had that experience too. Charlotte, a very independent-minded senior with her wits and sense of humour about her, endears herself immediately to the reader. The day-time mugg ...more
I've always en ...more
Lively’s chaos starts with Charlotte Rainsford’s mugging. When Charlotte gets mugged her hip is ...more
It all begins when Charlotte Rainsford – a 76-year-old woman – is accosted by an unknown teenage thief on the streets of London and breaks her hip. That one random event gi ...more
In How it All Began, Penelope Lively proposes the butterfly effect i.e. in South America a butterfly flaps its wings and eventually a tidal wave results in Asia. When an elderly mother is mugged, her daughter cannot accompany her boss to an appointment. This mugging, this random event precipitates a series of life-altering events: an impending divorce, a new business affiliation, a budding romance, an out of control overdraft, a separation, a new business, an embarrassment and a controversial sc ...more
Walking into work today, I was struck by how perfect it was: high blue skies, warm but not sweltering, sunny. That is very similar to what it feels like to step into a Penelope Lively book: in the hands of such a master craftswoman and storyteller, the journey gives you a deep sense of readerly peace.
Here she plays with the idea of how one event -- the mugging of an older retired teacher -- has its "butterfly wings" ripple effect through several lives. The attack means Charlotte has to move in w ...more
I liked Charlotte as a character. She is the kind of person I imagine I'll be in old age: bookish, good-hearted, enduring the aches & pains & losses ...more
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 ...more