Road to Lichfield

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Overview


In The Road to Lichfield, Penelope Lively explores the nature of history and memory as it is embodied in the life of a forty-year-old woman, Anne Linton, who unexpectedly learns that her father had a mistress. With this new knowledge, Linton must now examine the realities of her own life - of her childhood, her husband - and ask, What do they really know of her? Deeply felt, beautifully controlled, The Road to Lichfield is a subtle exploration of memory and identity, of chance and consequence, of the intricate ...
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The Road to Lichfield

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Overview


In The Road to Lichfield, Penelope Lively explores the nature of history and memory as it is embodied in the life of a forty-year-old woman, Anne Linton, who unexpectedly learns that her father had a mistress. With this new knowledge, Linton must now examine the realities of her own life - of her childhood, her husband - and ask, What do they really know of her? Deeply felt, beautifully controlled, The Road to Lichfield is a subtle exploration of memory and identity, of chance and consequence, of the intricate weave of generations across a past never fully known, a future never fully anticipated.
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Editorial Reviews

Ellen Pall
...[A] homey, companionable book [that is] concerned with time and memory.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lively's growing audience of discriminating readers will welcome the belated U.S. publication of her first novel, issued in England in 1977. This quiet but moving book betrays few earmarks of the neophyte: Lively's economical yet evocative use of language, her preoccupation with history as a force in individual lives, and her dry wit are all in evidence here. The year she turns 40, two crises interrupt Anne Linton's orderly routine as the wife of an uncommunicative and slightly boring solicitor, mother of two teenagers, and part-time teacher of history. Her father's terminal illness necessitates her frequent traveling to Litchfield in the Midlands from her Berkshire home, and throws her into contact with schoolmaster David Fielding, with whom she begins an affair. On the surface her existence remains the same, but as she discovers a major secret in her father's life and pursues a clandestine life of her own, she must acknowledge the subjective nature of memories and reassess her own attitudes about the past. She is moved to question her involvement with a group of architectural preservationists who fight the demolition of old buildings, no matter how decrepit and useless, and turn antique artifacts into chic decorative objects. (Lively goes a bit overboard in her portrayal of one character who is obsessed with doing good--``a prettier woman would have taken up adultery''--but her humor has bite.) (Feb.)
Library Journal
This is Lively's first novel, originally published in England in 1977. It centers around British housewife Anne, whose father is dying in a nursing home. Anne goes to see him, in Lichfield, and in the process of cleaning out his house discovers that her father was someone she hadn't known well at all. ``I knew my father in one dimension only,'' she realizes. Her relationships with her husband, brother, and lover might be similarly described. Lively's prose is clean and readable. This novel will appeal to people who are familiar with her recent works and to those who enjoy well-written stories that convey a message without beating the reader over the head. Recommended.-- Mary Prokop, CEL Regional Lib . , Savannah, Ga.
Ellen Pall
...[A] homey, companionable book [that is] concerned with time and memory.
The New York Times Book Review, 1991
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802136251
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 467,327
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Penelope Lively
Penelope Lively
Beloved memoirist (A House Unlocked), children's book author (The Ghost of Thomas Kempe), and Booker Prize winner Penelope Lively is perhaps best known for smart, literate thrillers that look to the past for keys to understanding, like 2003's The Photograph. "I'm not an historian," Lively told Britain's The Observer, "but I can get interested -- obsessively interested -- with any aspect of the past."

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

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