Daniel's Reviews > Consequences

Consequences by Penelope Lively
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Aug 24, 2008

it was amazing
Read in November, 2009

I approached this book as a case study. What I found when I read this was an author who is beyond smart, doing interesting things with her writing, changing styles on purpose from main story to main story and all the while I wondered if she planned it this way or if it just happened and she went along for the ride.

Wondered is the wrong word. Marveled...that she planned it this way.

The first story is broken into wonderful "snippets" almost short stories or glimpses into England just before and during the time of the second world war. Each glimpse should be relished and enjoyed for what it brings in a sparse but beautiful vignette that can stand alone, or when strung together make for a most exquisite but sad storyline. That someone's life can be broken down into so few, small chapters is almost a crime. That said chapters can be expressed with such beauty, longing, and meaning more than makes up for it.

Then, Lively does an interesting thing with the second part of the book. She abandons that style all together. It is almost as if she was switching gears to tell you about the next generation. The slower, prettier style fits the more distant past. The faster, more modern approaches encompass all that is new. All while spinning the stories around a common axis, which is the fact that the smallest decisions or choices have the greatest impact in our lives, something we never realize until much, much later.

It takes an author of real skill to realize this and to trust their talent enough to pull it off. I have a lot of respect for what Penelope Lively did with this novel. I felt like it was an amazing read, worthy of all the great reviews it has received.

I heard that V.S. Naipaul once claimed that there were no women authors who matched his skill. I would hold this novel as exhibit A that his opinion is erroneous.
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Alan great review!


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