Notes from the Book Group on December 15, 2014

Meeting of the Bryn Mawr Book Group on Tuesday, December 15, 2014

For Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

(I was unable to attend this meeting, so here follow some comments on the book gleaned from an article in The Guardian by Sam Jordison.)

“Ludicrously patronised by reviewers, Penelope Lively’s novel is actually one of the very best Booker winners ever.”

Two lovers – Claudia and Tom – [are] on one of their last snatched nights together in Cairo during the Second World War. [Lively’s] descriptions of Egypt in 1942 … rival those in the Alexandria Quartet for vividness and power.

In Claudia Hampton, Lively has worked the impressive trick of creating a mean-spirited, selfish character with whom one can’t help falling in love. We meet her as she lies dying and is occupying herself by composing a history of the world in her head – with herself as the heroine.

Moon Tiger is actually a singularly tough book. It doesn’t flinch from unpleasantness (including incest and death, random, sudden and prolonged); it asks hard questions about memory and history and personal legacy; it’s stylistically demanding and inventive.