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Moon Tiger (Penguin Modern Classics)

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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  4,807 ratings  ·  388 reviews
Claudia Hampton, a beautiful, famous writer, lies dying in hospital. But, as the nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, she is plotting her greatest work: 'a history of the world ... and in the process, my own'. Gradually she re-creates the rich mosaic of her life and times, conjuring up those she has known. There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 224 pages
Published April 27th 2006 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1987)
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118th out of 272 books — 162 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
Mary
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
Elizabeth
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?"

Terry
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
Moses Kilolo
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
T. Edmund
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
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
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
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 L
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 be wrong: this really is a very interesting book and even a tough read.
...more
Cesca
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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Philip
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.

Claudia´s confusion, however, is only an external phenomenon. Inte
...more
Jon
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
Sarah
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
alex seubert
Moon Tiger was the first book I read for college. I read it for a writing class with emphasis on critical thinking. My prof assigned it so we could see examples of personal narrative, even though it is fiction.
Now, I'm not going to lie. I thought it was going to be awful. The 90s want their cover design back and the author's name is Penelope. Not to mention I'm just uncomfortable about most/all contemporary British literature.
Wow, was I wrong. Lively takes you on a wild ride. I have never enjoye
...more
Aberlowitz
I read this beautifully written 1987 Booker Prize winner in one gulp. So why only 3 stars? I think it is because the main character, Claudia, embodies everything I wish I was but am not. She is thin and glamorous and has exciting lovers into her sixth decade. She is a successful writer and a successful polemicist who thrives as much on the distaste of those she considers to be unworthy as she does on the approbation of friends. So she tragically loses her one true non-incestuous love during WWII ...more
Laura
Completely ambitious. I read with awe at Lively's ability to weave together a coherent story despite the fact that she shifted between narrators, tenses, 1st and 3rd person, and time periods every few paragraphs. A moment would occur and then occur again from a slightly different vantage point and somehow I always followed the subtle shifts that were taking place. This was especially interesting to read right now as I am in the middle of teaching a short fiction unit... And Lively is breaking ne ...more
Deepti
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
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
Kiwiflora
Just look at the cover of this book. Doesn't it make you want to go to Egypt and sink yourself into this picture and all it conjures up? I don't imagine for a minute that Egypt is like this now, but what a wonderful vision to have when reminiscing on your life. 75 year old Claudia Hampton is dying, lying in a hospital bed, drifting in and out of consciousness as the important people in her life, both living and deceased pass through her memory and by her bedside.

And what a life Claudia has live
...more
Diane
The author is an elegant writer. Why then did I keep falling asleep everytime I picked up the book for the first half? the story offered adventure, color and gave us a glimpse of war scene from a perspective of her journalist war correspondency in Egypt. I enjoyed her descriptions of life in Cairo, getting look at the culture both of the British living there and a quick look at the Egyptians during that time frame. The main character is a challenge to understand and for me to relate to. but I fi ...more
Cheryl
"Perhaps I shall not write my account of the Paleolithic at all, but make a film of it. A silent film at that, in which I shall show you first the great slumbering rocks of the Cambrian period, and move from those to the mountains of Wales...from Ordovician to Devonian, on the lush glowing Cotswolds, on to the white cliffs of Dover... An impressionistic, dreaming film, in which the folded rocks arise and flower and grow and become Salisbury Cathedral and York Minster..."

The author approaches the
...more
Courtney H.
I re-read Moon Tiger after first picking it up years ago, not because it won the Booker but because it happened to be on sale in an Oxfam shop. I didn’t remember much about it, other than not really liking the protagonist very much. I am glad I reread it, because I enjoyed it a great deal more the second time around. I am not sure if it was because I didn’t give it enough attention the first time I read it, or if I simply am in a kind of groove that is favorable toward Lively’s style (certainly ...more
Holly
Mar 19, 2010 Holly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From the Guardian Booker blog: Moon Tiger is one of the very best Booker winners. Few books I've read recently have given me so much pleasure. (Or pain – this is literature of the first order, after all.)

The novel is so good that I was rather taken aback, especially since it hadn't drifted onto my radar before. Perhaps I'm being solipsistic and the book is actually discussed and praised as often as it ought to be, but I just haven't spotted it. Yet the fact remains that it wasn't in the running
...more
Stephanie
It took me several false starts to get immersed in the Booker prize-winning Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively (not the book's fault; I've been quite busy). Once I got in, though, I stayed in, and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Ms. Lively employs a cute little device that could have been annoyingly twee, had she not handled it so skillfully. Her main character, Claudia, is a popular historian who is gleefully aware that history is, after all, only a story -- and different stories have different degrees
...more
Brenda
Need an example of a flawed character? Penelope Lively created one in Claudia Hampton, a historian who is dying of cancer. Laying in her hospital bed, drifting in and out of consciousness, and skipping through her 70 plus years with no regards to chronology, Claudia decides to write a history of the world with herself as the main character. Featured in this history are the main players in Claudia's life: her brother Gordon, daughter Lisa and others, but above all her ex-lover Tom Southern. At th ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
On the surface, Penelope Lively's novels are unassuming and simple: two characters, in some kind of relationship, live. Their lives are expected, rather normal, ordinary. Lively's gift is her ability to plumb these lives and flesh out people who are fascinating and extraordinary.

Moon Tiger is a beautiful novel that follows the life of Claudia Hampton. Like the amateur archaeologist that she is, Claudia reviews her life layer-by-layer as she convalesces in a hospital, assuming death. Like all the
...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
...more
More about Penelope Lively...
How It All Began The Photograph Family Album Consequences The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

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“Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.” 21 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.” 8 likes
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