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Raymond and Saxon and Maynard and …

Penelope Lively, 19 February 1981

Memories 
by Frances Partridge.
Gollancz, 238 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 575 02912 9
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Notes from Sick Rooms 
by Leslie Stephen.
Puckerbrush, 52 pp., £1.50, March 1981, 0 913006 16 5
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... The interest of memories – or memoirs – depends on what someone has to remember and the terms in which they do so. Frances Partridge was born in 1901: she spans the century – a rich enough field, one would think. And her previous book, A Pacifist’s War, is eminently, even compulsively readable: personal recollection is tethered to public events; the immediacy of her wartime diary allows the reader to share the depression, the sinking in the stomach, the fragmented moments of ordinary living ...

Stop the war

Penelope Lively, 1 April 1982

The Parting of Ways: A Personal Account of the Thirties 
by Shiela Grant Duff.
Peter Owen, 223 pp., £10.50, March 1982, 0 7206 0586 5
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From Middle England: A Memory of the Thirties 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 185 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 233 97232 3
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Dwellers All in Time and Space: A Memory of the 1940s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 227 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 0 233 97434 2
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... The title of Shiela Grant Duff’s book refers to the history of the Thirties – to the savaging of private lives by public events – but more specifically to her intense, emotional and eventually embittered relationship with Adam von Trott. She and von Trott met at Oxford, in the brief deceptive sunshine before the rise of the Nazis; von Trott was to die in 1944, shot for his part in the plot against Hitler ...

Wheezes

Jonathan Coe, 13 May 1993

Cleopatra’s Sister 
by Penelope Lively.
Viking, 282 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 670 84830 1
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... in terms of cause and effect. In the words of Howard Beamish, one of the central characters in Penelope Lively’s new novel, reality ‘has never been quite so devastatingly random’. This is the problem Lively addresses in Cleopatra’s Sister. To her credit, she has never fought shy of ideas, and in some ...

Make-Believe

Patricia Beer, 8 November 1979

The Intruder 
by Gillian Tindall.
Hodder, 286 pp., £5.95
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Mother Can You Hear Me? 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 269 pp., £5.90
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Treasures of Time 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 199 pp., £4.95
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Wild Nights 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 134 pp., £4.50
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... be to have a bloody-minded teenaged daughter. Treasures of Time, a subtle and intelligent book by Penelope Lively, takes its title from that of a fictitious television programme on the life and work of Hugh Paxton, archaeologist. The programme and its making provide the framework of the story. This is a clever technical device, given one of the main ...

Arsenals

Nicholas Spice, 18 October 1984

On the Perimeter: Caroline Blackwood at Greenham Common 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Heinemann, 113 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 434 07468 3
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The Witches of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 316 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 233 97665 5
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Corrigan 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Heinemann, 279 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 434 07467 5
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According to Mark 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 218 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780434427420
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... Farley’s rusks and warm milk. Scatological and eschatological considerations do not impinge on Penelope Lively’s ordered English world, where the sun shines out of the sky and not out of anyone’s arse and where the prospect of eclipse in the long night of a nuclear winter never enters anyone’s head. The book’s determination to keep clear of ...

Impossibilities

Walter Nash, 25 April 1991

Saraband 
by Patrice Chaplin.
Methuen, 216 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 413 63290 3
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Pious Secrets 
by Irene Dische.
Bloomsbury, 147 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 7475 0835 6
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City of the Mind 
by Penelope Lively.
Deutsch, 220 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 233 98661 8
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... the possibility that fiction can be popular and wholly convincing. Nobody needs to be told that Penelope Lively can deal convincingly with any possibility. I gather, however, that this is an author whose ordinary competence can sometimes flower into magic. For my part, I am always ready to settle for ordinary competence, as something brilliantly ...

Floating

Christopher Driver, 6 October 1983

Waterland 
by Graham Swift.
Heinemann, 310 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 434 75330 0
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Perfect Happiness 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 233 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 434 42740 3
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Scenes from Later Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 333 34204 6
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Summer at The Haven 
by Katharine Moore.
Allison and Busby, 158 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 85031 511 5
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... by way of a thigh-band, flops to the grass and with unimpaired instinct snakes towards the Lode. Penelope Livery’s Perfect Happiness is concerned with a woman’s bereavement: ‘Frances, sitting with hands folded and face blank, recollecting not in tranquillity but in ripe howling grief her husband Steven dead now eight months two weeks one day’. It ...

Speaking for England

Patrick Parrinder, 21 May 1987

The Radiant Way 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 396 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 297 79095 1
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Change 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 9780413576408
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Moon Tiger 
by Penelope Lively.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 233 98107 1
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The Maid of Buttermere 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 415 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 340 40173 7
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Stray 
by A.N. Wilson.
Walker, 175 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 7445 0801 0
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... apes’, and this is more eloquent than many of Duffy’s human tragedies. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively is a Second World War story concealed within a broader narrative. Claudia Hampton, a best-selling popular historian, looks back over her life from the hospital bed in which she is slowly dying. She claims, perhaps deliriously, to be writing a ...

Maria Isabel

Graham Hough, 22 January 1981

The Duchess’s Diary 
by Robin Chapman.
Boudicca Books, 126 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 9506715 0 9
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The Interceptor Pilot 
by Kenneth Gangemi.
Boyars, 127 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7145 2699 1
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Judgment Day 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 167 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 434 42738 1
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Voyovic 
by Niall Quinn.
Wolfhound, 163 pp., £5.95, December 1980, 0 905473 61 2
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... discontent that presides over this book made me suspect that the stories for children with which Penelope Lively made her reputation were of the kind admired by progressive parents rather than by children themselves. However, my consultant in the 10-11 age group speaks of them with warm approval, and Mrs Lively’s ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... on the more established but just as frivolous system of polite compromise and Moore lost out to Penelope Lively. Trevor McDonald, writing in the next morning’s Independent, revealed that ‘what decided the issue in the end was the fact that their feeling against Moore was stronger than their views about ...

Children’s Fiction and the Past

Nicholas Tucker, 17 July 1980

The Lord of Greenwich 
by Juliet Dymoke.
Dobson, 224 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 234 72165 0
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A Flight of Swans 
by Barbara Willard.
Kestrel, 185 pp., £4.50, May 1980, 0 7226 5438 3
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Fanny and the Battle of Potter’s Piece 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 45 pp., £3.50, June 1980, 9780434949373
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John Diamond 
by Leon Garfield.
Kestrel, 180 pp., £4.50, April 1980, 9780722656198
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Friedrich 
by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 150 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 7226 5285 2
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I was there 
by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 187 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 7226 6434 6
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The Time of the Young Soldiers 
by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 128 pp., £3.95, June 1980, 0 7226 5122 8
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The Runaway Train 
by Penelope Farmer.
Heinemann, 48 pp., £3.50, June 1980, 0 434 94938 8
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... be borne in mind. If the intention is merely to entertain in an avowedly lightweight work, as in Penelope Lively’s Fanny and the Battle of Potter’s Piece, only a pedant would insist that it is always necessary to include glimpses of less pleasant aspects of the past as well. But although it is fun to read about Victorian family games in large ...

Growing up

Dinah Birch, 20 April 1989

Passing on 
by Penelope Lively.
Deutsch, 210 pp., £10.95, April 1989, 0 233 98388 0
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The man who wasn’t there 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 158 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 86068 891 7
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The Sugar Mother 
by Elizabeth Jolley.
Viking, 210 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 670 82435 6
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Give them all my love 
by Gillian Tindall.
Hutchinson, 244 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 09 173919 5
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Storm in the Citadel 
by Kate Saunders.
Cape, 293 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 224 02606 2
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... that families are at their most tenacious when they fall short of what we feel entitled to expect. Penelope Lively has never been reluctant to identify with the domestic proficiencies of English fiction. Writing for children has been among its most assured traditions, and it may have been Lively’s numerous books for ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes, 18 June 1998

Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... and Sparks’’ Lucy Ellmann is prepared to consider ‘waitressing and prostitution’’ Penelope Lively is hoping to be offered a job as writer-in-residence on an oil-rig and Hilary Mantel thinks she could handle a stint of ‘collecting supermarket trolleys from far-flung parking bays’ (and adds: ‘Do not worry that you are depriving some ...

Mothering

Terry Eagleton: The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín, 14 October 1999

The Blackwater Lightship 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 273 pp., £15, September 1999, 0 330 38985 8
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... goings-on are not just suburban goings-on, as they might be in the fiction of Margaret Drabble or Penelope Lively. Instead, they raise questions of tradition and modernity, of pure-hearted rural Gaeldom v. decadent urban gayness, which touch the nerve of a nation increasingly divided between the Treaty of Rome and the Bishop of Rome, between secular ...

Ludic Cube

Angela Carter, 1 June 1989

Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words 
by Milorad Pavic, translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12658 4
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... mixing and matching many different taste sensations. In other words, it is not like a novel by Penelope Lively. It will not set you up; nor will it tell you how to live. That is not what it is for. The mother-type of these feast-like compilations is The Arabian Nights Entertainment – note the word ‘entertainment’. That shambolic anthology of ...

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