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Treasures of Time

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Treasures of Time is the twelfth novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively, a spellbinding story of the dangers of digging up the dark secrets of the past. This edition features an introduction by Selina Hastings.

Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scanda
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Penguin (first published 1980)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  237 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2020, modern-lit
Penelope Lively's second novel for adults, first published in 1979, is an enjoyable mixture - a sometimes poignant comedy of misunderstandings, with a theme about history and archaeology, but very much a book of its time - whatever happened to the Britain in which "There's political stability and a fair degree of tolerance and a certain capacity to admit mistakes."

The plot centres on the family of a now dead archaeologist Hugh Paxton, who made his name with spectacular finds from a dig at a barr
Proustitute (on hiatus)
The fact is, of course, that what you feel about what you see depends not on what is, but who you are. A place is an illusion.
A very subtle, understated measure of time—in the individual sense; in the familial sense; in the generational sense; and in the historical sense—and how all of these converge and conflict when the BBC descends upon the fractured Paxton family, intent on making a documentary about deceased archeologist Hugh Paxton. 

Navigating the different memories this present-day
Paul Secor
Another one of this year's re-reads. Five stars the first time out and five again this time'

I was interested that so much of the novel was spent on the two characters who were the least likable - Laura and Tom - and that the two characters I found most likable - Kate and Nellie - were relatively ignored. I found myself wondering whether Ms. Lively found Laura and Tom more interesting or whether she wanted to draw attention to Kate and Nellie through the contrast of not focusing her consideration
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those 'quiet' yet 'profound' books - not an awful lot 'happens' and I felt somewhat distant from the majority of characters, however, overall I enjoyed this read. I liked the fluid time line, the fact the people experience the same events differently and recall events differently - as the blurb says 'Treasures of Time explores the relationship between the lives we live and the lives we think we live'.

The day trip to Oxford, Blenheim, Minster Lovell & the Cotswolds was hilario
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, c20th
By comparison with today’s tomes, Treasures of Time is a short book, only 200 pages long, but it shows Lively at her best: an engaging plot, deft characterisation, acute powers of observation (especially about class distinction) and her finger on the pulse of social change. I read it in two nights, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hugh Paxton was an eminent archaeologist and the BBC wants to make a doco about him. Tony, the affable producer, heads off to Wiltshire to focus on the most famous dig and me
May 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I... don't quite know what to say. Given that my edition was part of the Penguin Decades series and supposed to represent the 1970s, I guess I expected it to deal with the social changes occurring at that time in at least some form. The closest it gets to this is discussing social mobility, political indifference and the concept of nationality in passing and while that's not why I decided to buy it, it did feel like a bit of a let down. My second problem with it was that there's no real urgency ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know Penelope Lively’s work mostly from her children’s books which I enjoyed reading to and with children when they were first published and since. I think her writing stands the tests of time because it is about the eternal themes of life and love and death. ‘Treasures of Time’, although published forty years ago, has messages which are strangely contemporary. The story revolves around five main characters and is told through their thoughts, memories and actions in the present of the book, th ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Penelope Lively novel. Treasures of Time takes its title from the work of Thomas Browne on Roman archaeology and artefacts. It's a play on words, I suppose, since the novel is focused on time, memory and the criss-crossing relationships of the younger and older members of the novel. The one thing that ties everyone together is history.

What I loved about this novel was the vividness of the characters. Lively really knows how to draw out the reactions of her characters and make t
Jill Gurney
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The British class system in the 20th century, examined in this study of Tom and Kate, Kate’s mother and aunt and the episodes which bring them all together. The plot covers events in their lives over a short period of time following the death of Kate’s father, a famous archaeologist. The class system, relationships, infidelities, archaeology and even Japanese tourism in Oxford all feature at one stage or another. The story is told in vivid flashback as well as current time. All is quite loose an ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
A beautifully written novel first published in 1979 telling the story, from several viewpoints, of the family of deceased archaeologist Hugh Paxton as the BBC attempts to make a programme about his life. Class, history, archaeology, landscape and the difference between various people's memories of events are all themes of the story as the past continues to haunt the present. A thoughtful read which still seemed to have a lot of relevance to today.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful and thoughtful tale about elite English life, academic and well-heeled but suffering the same everyday social challenges as everyone else. The story of the relationship between one young couple is interwoven with that of parents and family in the past plus a background of the early 20th Century scene in Bronze Age archeology.
Simon Fermor
A bit dated but fun to read if you lived in London in the 70's! Interesting study of flawed characters and how they can get into a relationship mess inevitably and unwittingly.
Susan Kavanagh
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not my absolute favorite of Lively's work, this was a well written, absorbing novel. 3.85.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Boring and too much posh speak to flow well in reading.
Can't read all those 'ones' and not dislike.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Penelope Lively who want to read everything she ever wrote
This is the first of two books I read in a row which disappointed me in similar ways. The second actually infuriated me; this one just annoyed me.

Here's the problem: I started out liking, even loving a little, the main character. At the end of the book I hated him. It's not a long book, and it features many descriptions both loving and acerbic drawn expertly with Lively's brilliant, observant eye and ear, but it's ultimately nothing more than a few hours of your life that you will spend watching
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Treasures of Time was Penelope Lively's first book for adults and develops further the theme of many of her fantastic children's books of the interplay of past and present. Like those children's books it is an immensely satisfying and very readable book. At its heart is the story of how a proposed BBC documentary about a great and fairly recently deceased archaeologist excavates a number of family secrets long since buried, and how, once in the open again, they impact on the remaining family mem ...more
Gemma Williams
People often think of Penelope Lively as a children's author, but she's also written some really fine books for adults.Perfect Happiness is wonderful, as is Judgement Day. I was less impressed with this though. It's a story about a BBC crew making a documentary about a deceased archeologist and the impact on his spiky daughter, her 'probably meant to be charming but actually quite smug' fiance, his appalling widow and long suffering sister-in-law who probably loved him more. I found some of the ...more
Mike Clarke
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Lively arts

Treasures of Time is comfortable Lively territory. Family secrets, buried for decades, are exposed slowly, piece by piece, after a death and gradually the familiar and secure edifice collapses. So far, so Anita Brookner, but Lively has a bat's ear for the upper middle class voice, and the habits and mores of the Jocastas and Timothies who inhabit her world.

'Laura and Barbara Hamilton are wondering about opening up a little place to sell really nice lithographs and prints, Barbara
Sep 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book dates back to 1979 and except for some mildly outdated phrases and expressions, it is as modern as any contemporary novel. I had to remind myself that the book was almost as old (young) as I am and in view of that, it is quite a feat that Lively pulls of here. Her characters are real and the little mysteries they try to hide are unveiled very subtly. It is one of those books that make you ponder and think about one's own life.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this novel of Penelope Lively's. She has countless intriguing ways of describing sunlight beaming into landscapes and into rooms. Yes, I would have liked a happier resolution, but the human scale of her story is itself reassuring. Worth a re-read, I'm thinking, for the missed nuances.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Don't know how I missed this early Penelope Lively novel - I thought I had made it a point to read all of them. And as usual, this one does not disappoint. Her usual sharp, evocative and clever writing, good dramatic situations and her pervasive theme of the past ever persisting.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2000
Tom, an academic, lives with Kate, whose father was a famous archaeologist. As past and present intertwine, we learn more about each person. Cleverly written with a realistic ending.
May 24, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story sounded interesting but I found it painful to get through this book. The characters weren't interesting or unique and nothing happens in the story.
Sue in NZ
Some lovely reminders of England in the late 1970s.
Kirsty Darbyshire
Not my favourite Penelope Lively, but not bad all the same. Characters all seeming a bit dated now.
Ellen Snyder
Not as good as some of Lively's book, but still interesting.
Shona Thomson
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Penelope Lively is a new author for me and this book has been reissued by Penguin. I want to read more of her books, this was great.
Nothing particularly happened and yet it was so absorbing.
Josie Crimp
I really liked the themes of this, such as how we never really know truth of history, and the power of perspective, but I don't think it ever reached its potential.
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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

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