Penelope Lively has selected the best of a lifetime’s worth of her short stories in a handsome new volume.
Wry, witty and compassionate, these stories get beneath the everyday to the heart of human experience. In intimate tales of growing up and growing old, chance encounters and life-long relationships, Lively explores the ways that individuals can become tangled in history and how small acts can ripple through the generations. The title story, ‘Metamorphosis, or the Elephant’s Foot’, is one of two new novella-length pieces that bookend the collection.
‘Lively has the gift, rare and wonderful, of being able to peel back the layers one by one and set them before us, translucent and gleaming’ Sunday Telegraph
‘A sublime storyteller . . . she has us riveted with curiosity as to what will happen next, yet also keeps us consistently aware of the nature of the illusion’ Guardian
Arctic Dreams is much more than a travel book; its subtitle is Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, which causes one to raise an eyebrow. Desire? What does the man mean? To be honest I am...Read more
Infinite Depths . . .
William Golding’s is not a large oeuvre: fifteen books, a play, an unfinished novel. Rereading everything, I am struck by the modesty of the pile through which I have worked, and the brevity of the...Read more
Alethea Hayter’s clever, innovative book of 1965 turned a searchlight on a time, a place, a circle of people; it has surely inspired the subsequent fashion for group biographies, most brilliantly...Read more
A Tasmanian Tragedy
English Passengers is a masterpiece, an achievement of such complexity, ingenuity and sheer narrative power that each time I reread it I am newly surprised: how can a writer have thus conjured up the...Read more
Francis Spufford’s The Child that Books Built is a short book that seems long, expansive, excursive. Of course – it cites a host of other books, from Where the Wild Things Are through The Little...Read more
The Poet and Piccadilly Jim
Alamein to Zem Zem bears as a frontispiece a photograph of its author. Keith Douglas leans against the bonnet of a lorry, arms spread out, smiling. He wears khaki shirt and trousers, officer’s cap....Read more
Before the Sun Set
This wonderful recreation of a time and a climate of mind – a hundred years ago, one realizes, startled – is not just an evocation of place but also of the child’s eye view. A Late Beginner...Read more