The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories Summary and Reviews

The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories

by Penelope Lively

The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively X
The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively
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  • Published in USA  May 2017
    208 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

A glimmering collection of new short fiction from the Booker Prize winner.

In such acclaimed novels as The Photograph, Family Album, and How It All Began, Penelope Lively has captivated readers with her singular blend of wisdom, elegance, and humor. Now, in her first story collection in decades, Lively takes up themes of history, family, and relationships across varied and vividly rendered settings.

In the title story, a Mediterranean purple swamp hen chronicles the secrets and scandals of Quintus Pompeius's villa, culminating with his narrow escape from the lava and ash of Vesuvius. "Abroad" captures the low point of an artist couple's tumultuous European road trip, trapped in a remote Spanish farmhouse and forced to paint a family mural and pitch in with chores to pay for repairs to their broken-down car. Other stories reveal friends and lovers in fateful moments of indiscretion, discovery, and even retribution - as in "The Third Wife," when a woman learns her husband is a serial con artist and turns a house-hunting trip into an elaborately staged revenge trap.

Each of these delightful stories is elevated by Lively's signature graceful prose and eye for the subtle yet powerfully evocative detail. Wry, charming, and keenly insightful, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories is a masterful achievement from one of our most beloved writers.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Lively's fundamentally serious take on our tangled emotional lives is never bleak, merely ruefully accepting. A treasure trove of fictional gems." - Kirkus

"An effortless and masterly collection." - Publishers Weekly

"Lively writes with an astringent blend of sympathy and detachment, emotional wisdom and satiric wit." - The New York Times

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Author Information

Penelope Lively Author Biography

Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt and spent her childhood there. She came to England at the age of twelve, in 1945, and went to boarding school in Sussex. She subsequently read Modern History at St. Anne's College, Oxford. In 1957 she married Jack Lively (who died in 1998). They had two children, Josephine and Adam. Jack Lively's academic career took the family from Swansea to Sussex and Oxford, and eventually to Warwick University, where he was Professor of Politics.

Lively received the Booker Prize for her novel Moon Tiger and wide acclaim for The Photograph and How It All Began. Lively is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. In recognition of her contributions to British literature, she has been appointed Dame Commander ...

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