06 October 2009


Penelope Lively is one of the most consistently rewarding novelists I know of. Is it a British female thing? Because it occurs to me I could say the same of Anita Brookner and Iris Murdoch (and Jane Austen, for that matter).

In Consequences, Lively's subject is how happenstance shapes our lives. In a way, it's a no-brainer: things happen, and so Things Happen. As the story begins, two young people from very different backgrounds happen to sit on the same bench in a London park and effect a very unconventional union--particularly unusual in the 1930s, I imagine. The novel essentially tells of the consequences of that meeting, for themselves, their families, and their descendants.

Beautifully written and deeply moving.

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