How it All Began

Front Cover
Center Point Pub., Jan 1, 2012 - Fiction - 350 pages
1 Review

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.

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About the author (2012)

Penelope Lively has written over 18 books for children, and over 15 titles for adults, distinguishing herself on both levels. Among the awards she has received are the coveted Booker Prize for the adult novel "Moon Tiger" (1987) and the Carnegie Medal for the highly acclaimed juvenile work, "The Ghost of Thomas Kempe" (1973). In Lively's writing, for both adults and children, the recurrent theme is interpreting the past through exploring the function of memory. "My particular preoccupation as a writer is with memory. Both with memory in the historical sense and memory in the personal sense." Beginning her writing career in the early 1970's, Lively wrote exclusively for children for over a decade. Because children have limited memories, devices were used to explore their perceptions of the past, such as ghosts in "Uninvited Ghosts and Other Stories" (1985), and a sampler in "A Stitch in Time' (1976). Lively's first adult novel, "The Road to Lichfield" (1977) was the result of turning to an older audience when she felt inspiration running out. Her adult novels include "Passing On" (1995), the story of a mother's legacy to her children and 'Oleander, Jacarandi: A Childhood Perceived' (1994) which is a memoir of Lively's childhood. Penelope (Low) Lively, born March 17, 1933 in Cairo, Egypt, had a most unusual childhood. She grew up in Cairo with no formal education until age 12, when her family put her in boarding school in England. After earning a B.A. in history at Oxford in 1955, she married Jack Lively, a university professor, whom she calls her most useful critic. They have a son and a daughter, Adam and Josephine.

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