REVIEWS OF "HOW IT ALL BEGAN" BY PENELOPE LIVELY
This is classic Penelope Lively – deeply comical,
essentially kind-hearted, wonderfully written and seasoned with a rare
wisdom. Literary Reviewr
Lively knows a thing or two about story-telling. Her veteran understanding of the function of narrative in our lives is impressive but lightly worn . . . At nearly 80 Lively knows better than to whitewash the trials of senectitude (or the pain of loving someone you can’t have). Her delineation of Lord Peters’ decline from a public figure into someone whose loss of competence leads to horrible humiliations is heartrending. But her candour is refreshing and reminds us that you don’t have to lie to yourself to live life finely until the very end.
Approaching her 80th year, Lively’s sense of humour lives up to her name “Well, there would be a certain affectation in being someone who sat in a hospital waiting-room reading Dostoevesky.” Whatever your age, HOW IT ALL BEGAN is a splendid tonic.
It is a very sly and closely observed novel – the triangle between
the wronged wife, her salvage-merchant husband and his mistress is beautifully
done. . . This is a novel absolutely of the moment – complete with villainous
banker and several characters on the brink of financial meltdown.
This novel contains some of Lively’s funniest and most enjoyable character studies. . . the kind of narrative at which Lively excels: the untidy, unpredictable one in which everyone lives ambivalently ever after.
. . . she is a writer of craft and sagacity and such old-fashioned
virtues trump the chic but meretricious every time.
The narrative weaves between this diverse cast of characters as they collide “in a human version of a motorway shunt”. . . it is Lively herself who is the authority on the power of stories to instruct, captivate and heal. . . an engaging and warm read full of keenest human insight.