Gransnet forums

Books/book club

Penelope Lively

(22 Posts)
Eloethan Sun 19-Nov-17 22:32:01

After reading several books that I initially quite enjoyed but ultimately found rather disappointing, I have at last just finished a book that was entirely satisfying - How It All Began by Penelope Lively. She wrote it at the age of 80 - fantastic.

I've read several of her other books which I also enjoyed but I can't remember the plots now, except for The Road to Lichfield - read many years ago - which has really stuck in my memory.

Eglantine21 Sun 19-Nov-17 22:34:57

Her children's books are particularly good I think. That was how I first encountered her.

Eloethan Sun 19-Nov-17 22:38:07

What age group does she write for Eglantine?

annodomini Sun 19-Nov-17 22:46:45

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe would be suitable for 8-10 year-olds, I think. Other recommendations can be found here

Eglantine21 Sun 19-Nov-17 22:48:54

I guess I would say 9 to 10 years though children are more sophisticated than years ago so maybe younger ones would enjoy them. They are magical but in a subtle way, mystical might be a better word, set in ordinary English places but with strange happenings.

Eglantine21 Sun 19-Nov-17 22:51:25

I went to visit the real Whispering Knights purely on the strength of her book!

Tegan2 Sun 19-Nov-17 23:31:27

I've got quite a few of her books; not sure if I bought them for my daughter or just for myself; I certainly read them. I felt that her mind seemed to work the same way that mine did [albeit with hers working a lot better!].

Greyduster Mon 20-Nov-17 09:13:07

I had never read any of her work but have just finished a book of her short stories and I rather enjoyed it.

Eloethan Mon 20-Nov-17 11:52:07

Thank you annodomini.

SueDonim Mon 20-Nov-17 13:43:51

I think this was the one we had a good book group discussion about. Her writing is beautiful, too.

Greyduster Mon 20-Nov-17 14:48:56

What age are her children’s books targeted at?

Ilovecheese Mon 20-Nov-17 17:28:47

A lovely adult book of hers is 'Passing On'

Eloethan Mon 20-Nov-17 18:39:13

You've reminded me that I've read that too Ilovecheese. I remember that enjoyed it but can't remember the plot. I think I'll try and get a copy and read it again.

Greyduster Tue 21-Nov-17 10:45:33

When I went to the library yesterday, I picked up a copy of ‘The House in Norham Gardens’ which is a story for older children, so the librarian tells me. I wanted to read it to see if my GS would like it. I’m not sure he would - but what a good story it is; I am thoroughly enjoying it! I have ordered ‘The Ghost of Thomas Kempe’. That might be more up his street.

rubysong Tue 21-Nov-17 11:03:57

I'm currently reading 'Consequences' for book group and, though I have no complaints about the writing I am finding it a bit predictable. A bit as if she is writing for the money rather than an urge to tell us something. The premise that random actions have consequences surely applies to all novels; there needs to be a bit more plot to make a book memorable. (I'm just over half way through, maybe something starting is about to happen.)

rubysong Tue 21-Nov-17 11:04:46


NotTooOld Tue 21-Nov-17 11:57:18

I recently read The Road to Lichfield and found it interesting as I know the area. However, the plot was a bit predictable and the ending disappointing but it was a pleasant, gentle read.

Wheniwasyourage Tue 21-Nov-17 17:56:37

I've read quite a few of her books, but my favourite is 'City of the Mind'. It's about an architect in London, but it mixes past and present, and also a child's vision of the city with an adult's vision as his young daughter is part of the story. I love it and thoroughly recommend it!

NotTooOld Tue 21-Nov-17 22:32:08

Ain't Kindle wonderful? I've just located 'City of the Mind' in the store and downloaded a sample. Thanks for the recommendation, wheniwasyourage.

Whilst doing that I noticed that Nina Stibbe has two fairly recent books out. If you enjoyed 'Love, Nina' and 'Man at the Helm', as I did, you may also like 'Paradise Lodge' (published June 2016) and 'An Almost Perfect Christmas' (published Nov 2017). Be warned, though, the latter costs £4.99 and has only 163 pages.

dahlia Sat 03-Mar-18 16:16:40

I have never read children's books by Penelope Lively, but love her novels for adults. As always, I can't remember the titles (I think one good one was "The Photograph", the stories just start slow and grow on me! Worth looking on your local library page where they will list all her books, with a brief description - but allow an hour or so!

EllenT Thu 08-Mar-18 09:57:49

I've thoroughly enjoyed all Penelope Lively's novels for adults, and found her perceptive and moving on families, relationships, and the passage of time. Some plots work better than others, but all are highly readable. On the the time-related theme, she has also a recent(ish) non-fiction publication which considers the ageing process eloquently, "Ammonites and Leaping Fish".

Apricity Thu 08-Mar-18 10:10:41

Two of her books I have enjoyed are A House Unlocked and Oleander, Jacaranda. Both are explorations of her past and so beautifully written.