Synopses & Reviews
A vibrant new novel from Penelope Lively—a wry, wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect
When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.
Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. Brought to life in her hallmark graceful prose and full of keen insights into human nature, How It All Began is an engaging, contemporary tale that is sure to strike a chord with her legion of loyal fans as well as new readers. A writer of rare wisdom, elegance, and humor, Lively is a consummate storyteller whose gifts are on full display in this masterful work.
"Penelope Lively's engaging new novel, The Photograph, is a testament to the virtues of lightness....[H]er method is subtraction, lightness, the quick, telling stroke....Lively tempers sprightly enthusiasm with perfect command of the form." Valerie Martin, The New York Times
"This captivating novel will please Lively's longtime fans and may win her new ones." Library Journal
"The Photograph is one of Lively's most satisfying novels: cleverly conceived, artfully constructed and executed with high intelligence and sensitivity." The Washington Post
Booker Prize winner Penelope Lively is a grande dame of British letters whose novels have attracted readers of Ian McEwan and Iris Murdoch, as well as those enthralled by her insight into relationships and family. The Photograph
brings her talents into a whole new realm. Now, bestselling author Alice Hoffman has picked Lively's magnificent work as this month's Today
Book Club pick.
The Photograph opens with a snapshot: a young woman, Kath, at an unknown gathering, hands clasped with a man not her husband, their backs to the camera. Its envelope is marked "Do not open destroy." But Kath's husband, Glyn, does not heed the warning. The mystery of the photograph, and of Kath herself and her recent death, propels him on a journey of discovery that sends shock waves through the lives of her family and friends.
With Lively's signature mastery of narrative and psychology, The Photograph explores issues that extend far beyond its London suburban setting: a woman's beauty and its collision with her own happiness, sisters' rivalry and lovers' cooling, a marriage in supreme crisis, and the cost of professional "success" as life unfolds. It is Penelope Lively at her very best, the dazzling and intriguing climax to all she has written before.
About the Author
Penelope Lively grew up in Egypt but settled in England after the war and took a degree in history at St Anne's College, Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. She was married to the late Professor Jack Lively, has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren, and lives in Oxfordshire and London.
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 novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave.
Penelope Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 program on children's literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.