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Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Penguin Essentials, 2015 (originally published by André Deutsch, 1987)


Because it tells the story of a woman living a life unconventional to the mid twentieth century; because it offers an end-of-life retrospective, a consideration which should be of interest to all of us; and because it's a modern classic, winning the Booker Prize in 1987, and I've never read Penelope Lively.

Enjoyment factor

One of the cover quotes refers to the book as "kaleidoscopic", which is accurate - and brings the realisation that all of our lives end up being remembered in that way.

The narrator, writer and former war correspondent Claudia Hampton, is looking back at her life through the muddled consciousness of the latter stages of a terminal illness. We're served a patchwork of memories, but crucially, we also get to see some of the incidents told from other points of view.

The non-linear perspective is refreshing and inevitably invites comparisons with one's own life. What will stand out, and will those memories will be the same for all involved?

It left me thinking ...

That all participants experience scenarios in our lives differently; that life isn't neat and tidy; and that we can't always expect to achieve satisfaction and resolution in our relationships, but instead should concentrate on enjoying the journey.

And equally, that narratives don't need to be linear to be engaging, and that perhaps they more accurately reflect the world when they're not.

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