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Moon Tiger: Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize (Penguin Modern Classics) Kindle Edition
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A complex tapestry of great subtlety. Lively writes so well, savouring the words as she goes ― Daily Telegraph
Very clever: evocative, thought-provoking and hangs on the mind long after it is finished ― Literary Review
Lively's ability to bring her character and the world she inhabits into full technicolour is beautiful. This is a unique book about a fascinating unpredictable woman way ahead of her time and yet absolutely of her time ― Lemn Sissay
One of Britain's most celebrated novelists. Moon Tiger's multiple, shifting viewpoints weaves an eloquent disquisition on memory, identity, age, love and regret ― Financial Times
Atmospheric, inventive. Few books I've read recently have given me so much pleasure. ― Sam Jordison, Guardian --This text refers to the paperback edition.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B002RI9PQS
- Publisher : Penguin (27 April 2006)
- Language : English
- File size : 1688 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 214 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 87,360 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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As Claudia tells herself the story of her life, the reader is taken through her unusual family story, her lost love, and the tumultuous war years. The writing is evocative and often surprising. The story is written in a non-linear style, with swift changes in perspective, and it kept me hooked. I look forward to rereading this book very soon.
This curiously disjointed novel falls into more or less equal three parts: before Claudia Hampton’s great love affaire with Tom Southern in Egypt; her time in Egypt; and after Tom’s death. In all parts, while she was lying on her deathbed in a nursing home, she reflects on her life.
Early on in the first part, she tells us that she is not interested in chronology and that her reminiscences are kaleidoscopic (though the way she recalls them are highly articulate and literary.) Kaleidoscopic writing is always something of a put-off for me, but never as much as in this part, as I tried to fit the bits together, only to find that, in so far as I could do that, the effort was hardly worth it because there is so little in the first third of the book that I found interesting: at best a description of Claudia’s relationships over the years with her brother Gordon, with her on-and-off lover Jasper, with their illegitimate daughter Lisa. Their characters are well described; but there is very little of what I would call a plot. Apart from that, she muses vaguely about God, about the importance of words, about world history (from pre-history to the 20th century) and her own place in it. (She has been a historian, a writer and a journalist). Occasionally we see her through the eyes of her nurses or her visitors.
In the second part, a plot does appear, and the story becomes more focussed and involving, though still occasionally kaleidoscopic. Claudia recalls the Second World War, and particularly Egypt. The descriptions of Egypt are evocative and expansive because Penelope Lively had been born and brought up there. Claudia, in her early thirties, had been a war correspondent in Egypt between 1940 and 1944. She had visited the battlefields in the desert after the fighting there - against the Italians and then against the Germans - had surged back and forth. Wonderful descriptions. There she had met and soon fallen in real love with Tom Southern, a tank officer, and he with her. (Curiously, despite the dialogue between them, Tom’s character is less developed than that of the others in the book.) By the side of the bed in which they slept together was a mosquito-repelling burning coil called Moon Tiger, whose scent she has never forgotten. These are moments when Tom is back from the front, but often he is in the field with his tanks. One day, he does not come back and there is news that he has been killed. (We are not told when, or in which of the many battles in the desert.) The devastated Claudia was then pregnant; more despair when she miscarried the baby she had wanted to keep.
The third part is not particularly kaleidoscopic; but its coherent accounts of various events do not – except for very nearly at the end - seem to me to be integrated either with each other or, except at the end, into the meaningful earlier part.
Claudia returned to England after the end of the war. She met her brother Gordon again. When they were children, they had been very competitive; but when she was nineteen and he twenty, their relationship had become almost incestuous, though Gordon was by then married Sylvia. Claudia and Gordon argue constantly, even when Gordon is close to death – but they love each other profoundly.
Jasper turned up again, ten years after Tom’s death. They resume their occasional sexual life. (It now appears that Lisa was conceived well after Tom had died.) Jasper was now an ambitious member of the Foreign Office. He took her to a conference of bigwigs in France, where she met a newspaper proprietor called Hamilton, who commissioned articles from her. She became better known. She wrote a book about Cortez’s victories over the Aztecs, which was turned into a film.
After she had written an indignant piece about the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956, she was phoned by an unknown Hungarian who begged her to make sure that his eighteen-year-old son, Laszlo, who was studying in Wimbledon, did not return to Hungary, and Laszlo became a protégé of hers; he stayed in her house, off and on, for about ten years, and she gives a full account of his development. He is a rounded character; and he is one of the people who came to visit her in the nursing home.
As Claudia’s 70th birthday approached, a Sunday paper (Hamilton’s? We are not told) had asked her for an article, and she had written one, with a photograph, about her time in Egypt. It was the first time that Laszlo and Lisa learnt anything – a mere glimmer - about that part of Claudia’s life.
The article was also seen by Tom’s sister, who sent Claudia Tom’s diary. It consists of graphic descriptions of the hell that was fighting against first Italian and then German tanks, and there are occasional references to “C”. The diary ended the day he was killed.
Claudia died soon after she had read and reflected upon the diary.
Of course the thoughts of a dying person are often random, muddled and confused, sometimes vague and sometimes very precise, skittering between memories and reflections, and leaving out things we might want to know. All this we find in this novel – but, for me, it was not, on the whole, a satisfying book (even though it won the Booker Prize in 1987), and much inferior, in opinion, to other books I have read of hers and of which I have written five star Amazon reviews: Pack of Cards”, “Perfect Happiness”, and “How It All Began”.
Penelope Lively, in her own inimitable style, keeps the reader enthralled, as true to life, her mother and daughter never quite get on to the same wavelength, and so the story ends with each retaining a totally false impression of who the other really is. This is the part of the book I found most frustrating, as I was longing for enlightenment to dawn between the pair, so that at long last, before Claudia dies, they would discover their mistakes, and reach a better understanding. However, this relationship was only a tiny part of the whole.
It is amazing how much action she has managed to pack in to such a short novel of only some 200 pages, especially as the chief protagonist is in fact lying ill in hospital for its whole duration.