Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Moon Tiger” as Want to Read:
Moon Tiger
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Moon Tiger

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  7,500 Ratings  ·  594 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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published 1988 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Moon Tiger, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Moon Tiger

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sail the sea of the century
Recommended to s.penkevich by: mo leannan
[U]nless I am a part of everything I am nothing.

We are like waves in a vast ocean moving forward to break upon the shore and vanish, yet the ocean remains. Each wave has it’s own narrative, each person a starring role in the story of their own lives, yet all of us are a collective ocean of minor and major roles coming and going from the larger narrative of human history. Penelope Lively’s Booker Prize winning novel Moon Tiger examines ‘the intimate debris of people’s lives’ through a sweeping ce
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
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The narrator announces this is to be a history of the world. What she means, we soon learn, is that it will be a history of the world as experienced by her. We have all been exposed at certain times of our life to moments of history which mysteriously remain an essential part of who we are. Perhaps a childhood visit to Hampton Court, a passage in a school history book about Cleopatra, a documentary about an archaeologist hell-bent on finding the remains of Troy – moments that are like portals al ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Shane Malcolm Billings

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
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An impressive account of war-correspondent and popular-historian Claudia, from her childhood to her death, the story she tells herself in a hospital bed at the end of a long life, its style mimicking the way a person might remember, without it being so-called stream-of-consciousness. Claudia’s thought processes include eras she didn’t live through—those of Pilgrims and Aztecs, for example—connecting those times to herself and to the time she did live through.

The narrative also gets handed off i
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2015 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
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
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?"

Moses Kilolo
Jul 26, 2010 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
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am verklempt. I am besotted. I've come undone.
"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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Netta by: Julie
Shelves: read-2017, wwii
Moon Tiger is a masterfully crafted novel. Unfortunately, this does no good. It tells the story of a terminally ill woman, Claudia Hampton, on her deathbed who tries to summirize her life (I do intent to put things as simple as possible because Moon Tiger has already stolen the show with its complicated narrative).

The novel thoroughly explores Claudia Hampton’s life from multiple points of view switching between a first-person narrative and a third-person narrative (which, too, does no good bec
Wendy Chard
Oct 02, 2011 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
It's a book I read decades ago, and it's probably one of my least favorite Penelope Lively. It demonstrates her wide minded versatility and her intrinsic to the core writing skills. And within a succinct length of pages and within clear insight to a personal life.

This time I only read it about half way through, because I have a long list and just wanted to prep myself for the books by Lively I have NOT read previously.

Dare I say this? She was ahead of her time, but she was not such a rebel nor
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
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
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
Thomas Edmund
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moon Tiger is the story of a mercurial woman who as she slowly dies writes a highly personal history of the world. When I first started reading this, I thought it was a magnificent account of emotionally stunted people whose superciliousness is apparently all encompassing. It is the sort of book that only an English author writing at a certain time would even think to write. Where the icy coldness of the story repels you despite the abundant intelligence as I simply struggle to believe such peop ...more
Lyn Elliott
Penelope Lively at her best, and one of the best Booker winners IMO.
How did I never read it before? It will stay with me for a long time.

A couple of websites:
"She is interested in the operation of memory - how it works and how we use it - and with the nature of evidence," wrote her editor at Penguin, Juliet Annan.
"Her preoccupations are with telling a tale from different angles... But also, like any good historian, she is meticulous in her research." 331
Oct 26, 2011 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
Claire Fuller
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This took me a while to get into probably because I was suffering from a book hangover from The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst. But maybe a quarter of the way through I was hooked. A sad tale of lost love and how even our closest relatives don't know what we're really like. Claudia, the main narrator, and protagonist is difficult to like, but that did make it interesting, and make me question my own responses to the book.
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
Stacey  D.
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
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Saville
  • Something to Answer For
  • Holiday
  • The Elected Member
  • G.
  • The Conservationist
  • Offshore
  • The Old Devils
  • Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1)
  • How Late it Was, How Late
  • Staying On
  • In a Free State
  • Heat and Dust
  • The Siege of Krishnapur
  • Sacred Hunger
  • Last Orders
  • Hotel du Lac
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)
Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.

Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Nex
More about Penelope Lively...

Share This Book

“Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.” 1271 likes
“We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. 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 people of whom we have never heard. More than that, we speak volumes – our language is the language of everything we have read. Shakespeare and the Authorised Version surface in supermarkets, on buses, chatter on radio and television. I find this miraculous. I never cease to wonder at it. That words are more durable than anything, that they blow with the wind, hibernate and reawaken, shelter parasitic on the most unlikely hosts, survive and survive and survive.” 19 likes
More quotes…