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Pickle Me This

January 19, 2012

Mini-Review: How It All Began by Penelope Lively

I read this book for pleasure purely and have no time to review it here, but couldn’t not post anything about it in case you never learned how wonderful this book is and how much you have to read it. How It All Began is the latest by Penelope Lively, who I’ve loved ever since Moon Tiger. This is a story about story, about the chaos theory as applied to history, to life itself, to narrative. When Charlotte Rainsford is mugged in the street, a whole chain of events is set forth that forever changes the lives of people who never suspect the ways in which their worlds are connected. And it’s interesting because these characters spend the entire book reading books, talking about stories, and making clear the ways in which the way stories go in real life and the way they do in books is markedly different– all the while unsuspecting that they’re fictional characters themselves. Oh, that cheeky Penelope Lively who constructs her universes to be so much like the one that we know, and manipulates her people with such deftness that we can nearly forget she’s there, but not completely. I do adore her authorial presence, which is always felt, its charm, and her preoccupations with history and happenstance. There’s a Carol Shields reference in this one, which is not far off the mark. How It All Began is the best book Lively has published in ages (which is saying something, because she’s always pretty good).

2 thoughts on “Mini-Review: How It All Began by Penelope Lively”

  1. Melwyk says:

    Oh my! I can’t wait to get my hands on this one…looking forward to being in the big city soon and popping in to my favourite bookstore!

  2. Kerry says:

    It’s so good! I found Family Album a little bit too obvious, but this book did not disappoint at all.

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