Penelope Lively is, in my humble opinion, one of the few truly fine writers working today and I use the word ‘fine’ intentionally for when I think of her writing I think of spare, uncluttered prose, clearly drawn characters, efficiently described but physically real settings, effectively communicated emotions and precisely imagined and true-to-life behaviour.
Penelope Lively’s novel Family Album was released in hardcover late last year and received favourable reviews. Family Album is now available in the an affordable paperback.
Family Album: Allersmead is a big shabby Victorian suburban house. The perfect place to grow up for elegant Sandra, difficult Gina, destructive Paul, considerate Katie, clever Roger and flighty Clare.
But was it?
As adults, the children return to Allersmead one by one. To their home-making mother and aloof writer father, and a house that for years has played silent witness to a family’s secrets. And one devastating secret of which no one speaks . . .
FAMILY ALBUM is one of those ridiculously simple, ridiculously readable novels whose artistry only becomes apparent when you put it down with a sigh of regret, having devoured it in a sitting.
It is probably too low-key to make a literary splash, but more than 20 years after winning the Booker with MOON TIGER, Lively still displays an economy and an elegance that put younger writers to shame. David Robson, Sunday Telegraph.
I have come to associate Penelope Lively with William Trevor, Marilynne Robinson, Alice Munro and even Anita Brookner – writers whose obvious shared attribute is their plain but powerful prose and their individual search for perfection in form and expression.
If you’re already a fan of one or all of these authors then we recommend Lively’s Family Album, but, if some of these authors are unknown to you, we heartily recommend them all. In fact, we are slightly jealous, experiencing writers like Lively, Trevor or Munro for the first time is a pleasure one can only experience once.