How It All Began: Book summary and reviews of How It All Began by Penelope Lively

How It All Began

A Novel

by Penelope Lively

How It All Began by Penelope Lively X
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.

Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. Brought to life in her hallmark graceful prose and full of keen insights into human nature, How It All Began is an engaging, contemporary tale that is sure to strike a chord with her legion of loyal fans as well as new readers. A writer of rare wisdom, elegance, and humor, Lively is a consummate storyteller whose gifts are on full display in this masterful work.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Lively's 12th novel is a feel-good masterpiece that will delight faithful fans as well as those new to the work of this consummate storyteller." - Library Journal

"Throughout, prolific Booker Prize–winning author Lively (for Moon Tiger) illustrates her knack for charming familiarity and just the right dash of surprise." - Publishers Weekly

"This novel contains some of Lively's funniest and most enjoyable character studies... the kind of narrative at which Lively excels: the untidy, unpredictable one in which everyone lives ambivalently ever after." - The Guardian (UK)

"[S]he is a writer of craft and sagacity and such old-fashioned virtues trump the chic but meretricious every time." - Financial Times (UK)

"The narrative weaves between this diverse cast of characters as they collide 'in a human version of a motorway shunt'... it is Lively herself who is the authority on the power of stories to instruct, captivate and heal... an engaging and warm read full of keenest human insight." - Independent (UK)

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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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