Monday, February 15, 2010

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Though this story is told from the point of view of a sickening and elderly woman, it's not what I expected. Far from being morose and sentimental, Moon Tiger packs a mighty punch. It's a celebration of uninhibited womanhood, of deviance, of razor-sharp wit and searing intellect, of sexual prowess and of boundless confidence.

Claudia Hampton is a dazzling character - admired and loathed in equal measure by all, known by very few: Claudia, on her death-bed begins to write the history of the world, commanding her extensive knowledge despite failing memory, and recalling, along the way, those things that 'made' her. The recollections paint a vibrant picture, but cast little judgement - Claudia is unbound by conventional morality: what she does, she does because she must, because she is compelled, because she believes in her self-knowledge. Still, the dying woman is aware enough to allow minor concessions, acknowledging the puzzlement that she provokes in others.

Moon Tiger is masterfully told - the narrative is engaging, the 'voice' is audacious and strong, and the odd touch of literary convention - used to great effect and with superb subtlety - combined to leave me breathless. For all the strength and force of the narrator, Lively manages, in the most economic way possible, to leave that crucial space for the reader that turns a good book into a great book.

4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book, too. It sort of snuck up on me. Thanks for your review!

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  2. Excellent review of an excellent book.

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  3. I can't wait to read this one. If only the person sending it to me on Bookmooch would hurry up!

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