Passing On

( 2 )

Overview

Booker-Prize winning author Penelope Lively is that rare writer who goes from strength to strength in book after perfectly assured book. In Passing On, she applies her distinctive insight and consummate artistry to the subtle story of a domineering and manipulative mother's legacy to her children. With their mother's death, Helen and Edward, both middle-aged and both unmarried, are left to face the ramifications of their mother's hold on their lives for all of these years. Helen and Edward slowly learn to accept ...
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Passing On

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Overview

Booker-Prize winning author Penelope Lively is that rare writer who goes from strength to strength in book after perfectly assured book. In Passing On, she applies her distinctive insight and consummate artistry to the subtle story of a domineering and manipulative mother's legacy to her children. With their mother's death, Helen and Edward, both middle-aged and both unmarried, are left to face the ramifications of their mother's hold on their lives for all of these years. Helen and Edward slowly learn to accept what has been lost in their own lives and embrace what can yet be retrieved. "The richest and most rewarding of her novels." - The Washington Post Book World

A brilliant new novel from Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively, Passing On opens with the death of a difficult mother and follows the lives of her middle-aged children as they slowly learn to face what has been lost in their own lives and embrace what can yet be retrieved.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Greystones is a moldy, drafty house of no great distinction located in the equally nondescript English town of Spaxton. The domineering and cantankerous Dorothy Glover has finally passed away, leaving her middle-aged progeny, Helen and Edward, to examine their lives, both past and future. It's a subtle plot and one that does well with Lively's ( The Road to Lichfield ) gently assured style. By revealing developments through small details--the discarded dishrags that mark the beginning of a relationship and the glimpse of a watch that signals its end--she delicately delineates the impact of love, scandal and turmoil. On the rare occasion when Lively gives reign to sweeping statements, as when the dramatic Louise comments on motherhood (``At the moments you wish you were shot of the whole thing you know perfectly well that it's precisely because you couldn't endure to be without it, now you know about it, that you've got to go through all this''), her writing doesn't quite ring true. But such instances are rare in this consistently engrossing tale. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Having won both the Booker Prize (Moon Tiger, LJ 5/15/88) and the Carnegie Medal (The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, 1973), Lively has already proven herself to be one of Britain's finest authors. Passing On simply burnishes this reputation. Once again, she develops her favorite theme: the power of the past to control the present. In this case, the past is a malevolent mother who is being lowered into her grave at the beginning of the book. But if Helen and Edward, middle-aged brother and sister, think that their mother has lost her stranglehold on them by dying, they are wrong. Through Helen's intelligent perception we watch as she and Edward struggle valiantly to lead normal lives. Sheila Mitchell, a respected actress in British theater, television, and radio, reads the story with accomplished skill. As Mitchell lowers her voice slightly to become Edward or speaks softly as Helen, listeners will swear they are sitting with them at the kitchen table in that tomb of a house. In fact, the reading is so convincing that it seems almost like an invasion of privacy to be listening at all. Highly recommended.-Jo Carr, Sarasota, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802136268
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 517,727
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively was born in 1933 in Cairo and spent her childhood there, moving to England in the last year of World War II. She has written many prizewinning novels and collections of short stories for both adults and children, including the novel Moon Tiger, which won England's prestigious Booker Prize in England in 1987, and most recently Heat Wave. She lives in Oxfordshire and London.

Good To Know

In her interview with Barnes & Noble.com, Lively shared some fun facts about herself:

"I came late to writing -- I was in my late 30s before I wrote anything. The years before that had been busy with small children, and I seem to have fallen into writing almost by accident. Since then, I have never stopped -- books for children to begin with, then a period writing for both adults and children -- short stories also -- then for adults only when the children's books, sadly, left me."

"It has been a busy 30 years, but because writing is a solitary activity and I like the company of others, I have also always had other involvements -- with writers' organizations such as Britain's Society of Authors, with PEN, with the Royal Society of Literature, and, for six years, as a member of the Board of the British Library (the opposite number of the Library of Congress) which I regarded as a great privilege -- what could be more important than the national archive?"

"I have always been an avid user of libraries; like any writer, much of my inspiration comes from life as it is lived -- what you see and hear and experience, but my novels have sprung from some abiding interest -- the operation of memory, the effects of choice and contingency, the conflicting nature of evidence -- and these concerns are fueled by reading: serendipitous and eclectic reading."

"I am first and foremost a reader myself. I don't think I could write if I wasn't constantly reading. I both wind and unwind by reading -- stimulus and relaxation both. I used to love tramping the landscape, and gardening, but arthritis rules out both of those, so I do both vicariously through books. I live in the city now, but feel out of place -- I have always before lived most of the time in the country: I miss wide skies, weather, seasons."

"Never mind, there are compensations, and London is a very different place from the pinched and bomb-shattered place to which I came as a schoolgirl in 1945 -- now it is multicultural, polyglot, vibrant, unpredictable, in a state of constant change but with that bedrock of permanence that an old place always has. I like to escape from time to time -- mainly to West Somerset, where we have a family cottage and I can admire my daughter's garden -- she has the gardening gene in a big way and is far more skilled than I ever was -- bird-watch, walk a bit, talk to people I've known for decades, and see the night sky crackling with the stars that the city blots out."

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    1. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 17, 1933
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cairo, Egypt
    1. Education:
      Honors Degree in Modern History, University of Oxford, England, 1955

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Four stars

    I thought the book started slowly, but I got really interested in the characters by the middle of the book and couldn't put it down. I feel like any "adult child" would be able to relate to these characters - or anyone who has an overbearing parent. I liked how they eventually found confidence and started to like themselves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    Absolute Perfection!

    This novel has the weight and truth of an actual experience. When I put down the book after reading it I wasn't sure if I were one of the characters or not. This is the depth of the writing. These characters will live on in my mind and soul and imagination for many years to come. Brava, Penelope!

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