Moon Tiger

Moon Tiger

by Penelope Lively


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Winner of the Man Booker Prize and Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize

The elderly Claudia Hampton, a best-selling author of popular history; lies alone in a London hospital bed. Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness, but she imagines writing a history of the world. Instead, Moon Tiger is her own history, the life of a strong, independent woman, with its often contentious relations with family and friends. At its center — forever frozen in time, the still point of her turning world — is the cruelly truncated affair with Tom, a British tank commander whom Claudia knew as a reporter in Egypt during World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802135339
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 09/28/1997
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 116,045
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

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."


London, England

Date of Birth:

March 17, 1933

Place of Birth:

Cairo, Egypt


Honors Degree in Modern History, University of Oxford, England, 1955

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Moon Tiger 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
swimsreads More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The main character is unapologetically unconvential. The author shows that what we think of ourselves is uniquely our own view. No one can experience life as we see it. Similiarly, as well as we know others, we will never know everytning about them. One of my new favorite authors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Penelope Lively has written heart-wrenching and deeply moving books before ('Passing On' for example) but 'Moon Tiger' is to this date her masterpiece. An immensely engaging novel, rich with perfect language and heart stopping emotions. I recommend this book to the world.
greyhound_lvr More than 1 year ago
Great writing, clever use of various points of view and non-chronological narrative. Reminded me at times of Slaughterhouse Five. Loved it!
jwminnyc More than 1 year ago
An observation made over the years is that serious readers have their favorite authors. Penelope Lively has shoved her way onto my favorite list - right near the top. This is writing that you do not forget after the last page has been turned; her characters, writing style, and originality stay with you for a long time. Comparisons to people and circumstances we know are frequent - with the added dimension of nuanced insight. Penelope Lively is a very gifted writer and a pleasure to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was wonderfully written and evokes many different emotions within the reader. What begins as a story of Claudia Hamilton's life, the reader is introduced to a character with a strong personality that touches many different levels of interpretation and interaction. I liked Claudia's strong will, set personality, and the interesting chain of relationships that she develops. The way history is woven, her personal story, draws the reader in. In the beginning, the nurses wonder if this woman was ever 'somebody.' As we dig further into the story we realize that Claudia was a woman with many facets, sure of herself and intimidating to many. In my opinion, the character of her daughter Lisa, who always seems to see herself as a complete opposite of Claudia, seems to me in some ways similar in many ways. The fact that Lisa never reveals the identity of Paul to her mother begins to reveal, in my mind, a side to Lisa's personality that would have made Claudia see a bit of herself in her daughter. Sylvia even envied Claudia. The strength of her personality seems to overshadow many of the weaker personalities around her. The relationship between Gordon and herself was intriguing for many reasons. The fact that she keeps her relationship with Tom to herself also touched me, because there are some parts of our lives, some details so intimate and personal, that to try to explain them or share them seems to diminish their very essence. The thing that seems to strike me most is the way that throughout the story of history, the one detail that will never change, our one constant, is that the story of life goes on with or without us, some having changed or been made better or worse having known us. All we can do is try to make an impression on those we know, to live on in memory, value our accomplishments and company, and let people know that we are 'somebody' in this world. Time is fleeting, as is youth, but the beauty of Claudia's story, and the characters that she interacts with, are far from fleeting. 'Moon Tiger' is a wonderful read that speaks volumes about the narrative that we call history! The structure of writing is cleverly put together. I like the way her chronology jumps. It never gets too scattered to the point of confusion, but allows the reader to follow the flow of her memories, which after all, is all history is--a bunch of memories and facts written down. Some is embellished, some diminished, an interpretation, left for others to either believe or not. This was an excellent book that made me appreciate Claudia's version of history and the realization that where her story stops, a thousand more begin!!
scohva on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of elderly Claudia Hampton who reflects on her life as she lays dying in a hospital. Claudia, who is independent and prickly, reflects on her relationships with the people in her life and the twentieth century. The novel hinges on Claudia falling in love with a tank commander in Egypt during World War II, but covers many other times in her life. The same scene is often retold from two or three different perspectives, which worked well and really helped to reveal the characters' personalities. Overall, I wasn't sure that the love story was affecting as it could have been, but the novel was still interesting enough that I liked it very much.
anotherjennifer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nearing the end of her illustrious life, Claudia Hampton decides that her final work as a historian should be to write the history of the entire world. While she may not achieve this lofty goal, Claudia succeeds in providing the history of her own life. Lively uses her narrator's profession to great advantage, and the novel is comprised of Claudia's ruminations on her past told in the first person, as well as glimpses of her experiences told in third person. Her philosophies about history--which permit both anachronisms and fictionalization--dictate the manner in which her life story unfolds. Claudia informs us, "I've always thought a kaleidoscopic view might be an interesting heresy. Shake the tube and see what comes out. Chronology irritates me." Her other assessment, that she is "a myriad Claudias who spin and mix and part like sparks of sunlight on water," also provides the framework for which the story will be told, and is representative of the poetic tone Lively uses throughout the novel.The majority of the novel recounts Claudia's experiences as a journalist in Egypt during World War II, where she engages in a fondly-remembered romance with a soldier named Tom. With the exception of the unusually close bond she shares with her brother Gorden, most of the other events and interactions in Claudia's life--however exciting and life-altering--pale in comparison to her love for Tom. Her relationship with her daughter, Lisa, is strained, probably because two of Claudia's most admirable traits--professional ambition and wanderlust--result in frequent absences from the child's life. Although her relationship with Jasper, Lisa's father, is amicable and provides one of the few constants in Claudia's life, it lacks the intensity she feels with Tom. As her life draws to an end, Claudia considers the separateness of the past and present, while not discounting the former's everlasting influence.While the temporal and narrative shifts are initially confusing, they work well within the greater concept of the novel, and it is interesting to watch Claudia's life unfold from the "kaleidoscopic" view. Occasionally, a scene narrated by Claudia will then be told in the third person, with slightly different details, adhering to the notion that history is never free of fiction. Lively's narrator is witty and amusing, albeit distant and abrasive to those around her. She's seldom apologetic or regretful which, strangely, seems to make her more likable. Claudia does not try to drive people away for the sake of being icy or vindictive, it is simply part of her nature to give precedence to her own pursuits. (As I was reading, Katharine Hepburn came to mind. Claudia would have been right at home in Hepburn's repertoire of unconventional, fiercely independent wartime heroines.)
caulfieldfinch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stand this book. The writing may be good but that doesn't mean anything if you don't like the characters. Claudia was unbearable pretentious and self-centered, and by the end of the book I didn't even care what happened to her.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Claudia Hampton is 76 years old, and dying in hospital. Having spent her career as a journalist and historian, she decides to spend her last days recounting her own history. The telling takes place in her mind, interrupted by nursing care and visits from family members. Born in 1909, Claudia was a bit of a radical and far more independent than most women of that period. She was an intellectual, pursued a career, and refused to marry even when she found herself pregnant. She was attractive, but not interested in the men who pursued her. She was a distant and non-traditional parent, and her relationship with her adult daughter was uncomfortable. Claudia's brother Gordon was the only person she could identify with; in fact, this bond was a bit too strong, and intimidating to others.Claudia initially seemed cold and aloof, and I was worried we were heading towards the "career woman as bitch" stereotype. Then Penelope Lively took me deep inside Claudia, revealing her inner core, and the private, unforgettable love that changed her life. Suddenly, the other events in Claudia's life were cast in a far different light. This was a woman in extreme emotional pain, made all the worse by her unwillingness to share her feelings with anyone else. She simply could not appear vulnerable, and so kept her young adult experiences to herself for her entire life. Moon Tiger is a moving, rich character study which also has me considering how to live life in such a way as to have no regrets at the end.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Claudia Hampton, dying in a hospital in London, is thinking back over her life. Penelope Lively weaves Claudia's memories with the memories of a daughter and a brother and friends, and spills the story of Claudia's life onto the page in little snippets and bits to create a story that is both clever in its structure and beautifully written. Recommended. Favorite Quote: p. 28 "The cast is assembling; the plot thickens. Mother, Gordon, Sylvia. Jasper. Lisa. Mother will drop out before long, retiring gracefully and with minimum fuss after an illness in 1962. Others, as yet unnamed, will come and go. Some more than others; one above all. In life as in history the unexpected lies waiting, grinning from around corners."
thronm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moon Tiger is a "green coil that slowly burns all night, repelling mosquitoes, dropping away into lengths of grey ash, its glowing red eye a companion of the hot insect-raspingdarkness" and this simple device organized the novel. The moon tiger is used in Egypt while Claudia lies with her lover Tom who will be killed in the desert war of WWII yet is vividly remembered as she lies, in old age, dying in a hospital. The memories burn off one at a time until the coil is no more and she is no more. We are the only ones who can know what she tells us, how she tells us and what the memories mean to her. We grow to understand memory itself and we travel with her towards her death. It is an elegy, not a novel. Wonderful book.
samfsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The structure of this novel is excellent. It¿s the story of an elderly woman on her deathbed he relates her history. Those portions of the narrative that take place in the present time are in the first person. At other times the narration is in the third person, even when the author uses the point of view of the narrator. Very unusual. What is even more interesting is that the third person scenes are often of the same episode. For instance, when the narrator relates to her lover that she is pregnant, we get it from the viewpoint of both the narrator and her lover. Writers will frequently write a scene from two different points of view as an exercise - here the exercise is polished and included in the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t tear my mind away from this irascible, brilliant woman and her knife-edge reflections.
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MsKiz More than 1 year ago
An interesting concept to be in the mind of a dying woman as she reviews her life.
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lifeworkdesigner More than 1 year ago
Moon Tiger is the journey of an elderly, dying woman looking back on her life with cleverly inserted stories told by her children and friends at various stages. It brings to light the different perspectives we each have of ourselves and of those we interact with over the years. How different our understandings are sometimes! As an independent female war journalist in the early decades of the 20th century, the main character is a fascinating woman of the sort that led the way to the feminist movement that followed. Her travels and love in the trenches keep the story moving and the character of Claudia, who seems shallow and self-centered at the beginning, becomes an admirable woman at the end. This book has made me think about how all the parts and pieces of my life will eventually fit interesting proposition to consider.
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Name:twilightforest Gender:female Age:it is impolite to ask a womans age Looks:black tabby with ginger sploches.she has twilight eyes and is verry pretty. Personality:verry frendly,loves kits,but is verry protective,and brave Family:sister is leafspots Mate/crush/kits:no.not Other:you can ask i wont bite
puzzleman More than 1 year ago
The writer loved this word. Appeared at least five times. Rather enjoyable story most of the time. I found the ending, however, not well conceived. Could have been omitted.