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Ates 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 wo A lovely character driven study in which life is impacted by Charlotte’s mugging and injury Set in motion is a chain of events that reuire multiple characters to make thoughtful decisions and choices Aging parents romantic affairs financial crises and academian jealousies are human complications and worries A smoothly written reflection on aging memories books immigrants and love A peaceful read with great insight into everyday life Rounded up from 375 stars

Summary ↠ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB ´ Penelope Lively

How It All Began

A vibrant new novel from Penelope Lively a wry wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect When Charlotte Rainsford a retired schoolteacher is accosted by a petty thief on a London street the conseuences ripple across the lives of acuaintances 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 busine Around the 100 page mark I was wondering with a growing apathy what was at stake in this novel All the characters seemed stuck at a red light Then of a sudden the lights turned to green and it flourished into life and I grew immensely fond of all the characters The novel begins when an elderly widow Charlotte is mugged and injures her hip As a result she is forced to live with her daughter until she recovers This will precipitate small events that change the lives of a small cast of characters who are all connected in some peripheral way to Charlotte and her daughter In this novel Lively has perfected her breezy sketchy style of writing which enables her to move so deftly and uickly between characters between the present and the past My favourite characters were the Serbian immigrant who aspires to be an accountant but is forced to work on a building site to whom Charlotte gives English lessons and the deluded musty aristocratic historian who is being duped by his ambitious assistant as he toils away at writing his memoirs There’s lots of wise stuff about growing old about the importance in our lives of stories and about how interconnected we all areAlthough it starts off slow I didn’t want this novel to end so much was I enjoying it in the final third Engendering Song unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a busine Around the 100 page mark I was wondering with a growing apathy what was at stake in this novel All the characters seemed stuck at a red light Then of a sudden the lights turned to green and it flourished into life and I grew immensely fond of all the characters The novel begins when an elderly widow Charlotte is mugged and injures her hip As a result she is forced to live with her daughter Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman Summary & Study Guide until she recovers This will precipitate small events that change the lives of a small cast of characters who are all connected in some peripheral way to Charlotte and her daughter In this novel Lively has perfected her breezy sketchy style of writing which enables her to move so deftly and The White Nights of Ramadan uickly between characters between the present and the past My favourite characters were the Serbian immigrant who aspires to be an accountant but is forced to work on a building site to whom Charlotte gives English lessons and the deluded musty aristocratic historian who is being duped by his ambitious assistant as he toils away at writing his memoirs There’s lots of wise stuff about growing old about the importance in our lives of stories and about how interconnected we all areAlthough it starts off slow I didn’t want this novel to end so much was I enjoying it in the final third

Penelope Lively ´ 6 Summary

Ss 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 friendsThrough a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustr Friends whose opinions I highly value have enjoyed this book I can only explain my personal reaction Perhaps it is best you read other reviews tooPlease start by reading the short GR book description The first paragraph tells you how the story unfolds The idea is that one event leads to another and another and another First of all is this so strange that one event leads to another and another and another? Is it worth writing a whole book about such a rudimentary concept? Secondly it is not true “that entire lives become irrevocably changed” view spoilerat least not in this novel hide spoiler


10 thoughts on “How It All Began

  1. says:

    Another charming and erudite novel from Penelope Lively whose books are always a pleasure to read This one was conceived as an illustration of the butterfly effect Charlotte an old widow is mugged and falls breaking her hip This sets in chain a series of events that demonstrate the interconnected nature of modern lives and the way lives are derailed by random eventsThis feels like a companion piece to her book Making it Up in which she imagined alternative versions of her own life that might have followed different choices or events at key moments Another of her novels is called Conseuences so she is clearly interested in causalityAs so often in Lively's writing the best things are the small details it is full of wisdom humour and perceptive observation if a little lacking in drama


  2. says:

    Around the 100 page mark I was wondering with a growing apathy what was at stake in this novel All the characters seemed stuck at a red light Then of a sudden the lights turned to green and it flourished into life and I grew immensely fond of all the characters The novel begins when an elderly widow Charlotte is mugged and injures her hip As a result she is forced to live with her daughter until she recovers This will precipitate small events that change the lives of a small cast of characters who are all connected in some peripheral way to Charlotte and her daughter In this novel Lively has perfected her breezy sketchy style of writing which enables her to move so deftly and uickly between characters between the present and the past My favourite characters were the Serbian immigrant who aspires to be an accountant but is forced to work on a building site to whom Charlotte gives English lessons and the deluded musty aristocratic historian who is being duped by his ambitious assistant as he toils away at writing his memoirs There’s lots of wise stuff about growing old about the importance in our lives of stories and about how interconnected we all areAlthough it starts off slow I didn’t want this novel to end so much was I enjoying it in the final third


  3. says:

    I loved this book about how an event in this case a mugging of an elderly lady can have reverberating affects on so many other people A light read on the surface but touching on some serious subjects of life aging and adultery; throw in some of Penelope Lively's humor and you get a delightful bookCharlotte the mugged 77 year old was my favorite character A retired English teacher she was forced to go stay with her middle aged daughter because of a broken hip Her remarks on reading and books and their role in her life was a treat I loved the scene where she had a doctor's appt and grabbed a book at the last minute to take to the waiting room The book was The DaVinci Code and she knew after just a few pages that it would not do So she was left holding the book and worried that now people will think I'm the type of person who reads The DaVinci Code Book nerd problemsAnother uote from Charlotte She is as much a product of what she has read as of the way in which she has lived; she is like millions of others built by books for whom books are essential foodstuff who could starve without Oh yes my kind of book


  4. says:

    In How it All Began Penelope Lively proposes the butterfly effect in the small lives of ordinary people When an elderly mother is mugged her daughter cannot accompany her boss to an appointment This mugging this random event precipitates a series of life altering events an impending divorce a new business affiliation a budding romance an out of control overdraft a separation a new business an embarrassment and a controversial scholarly article Penelope Lively is at her scintillating best in this ingenious delicious and absorbing story From the book cover “funny humane touching sly and sympathetic How It All Began is a brilliant sleight of hand from an author at the top of her game”But the Sunday Telegraph’s review on Lively's Family Album perhaps says it best about this author “Lively displays an economy and elegance that puts younger writers to shame” This opinion I feel states best the true essence of this wonderful writer and can be found in all novels Definitely 5★


  5. says:

    Oh I dearly loved this book about an event which spawned a series of follow on events some of which could be termed momentous in the context of a life The story was funny and true and ridiculous and painful and all those things that life can be It was comforting to hear about folks whose lives had hit a major speed bump but who managed by shuffling the deck to usher in a new chapter in their lives one that they liked even better But it is lightly told and not so painful for us safely behind our reading glasses sipping tea and considering just how awful divorce could befor the characters of courseI was also struck by parallels between the theme in this book by Lively and Kate Atkinson’s new offering Life After Life It is almost as though the grande Dames of British Literature were given a writing assignment to mull over the possibility that Hitler had never been born or had died in early life before the tragedy of World War II The assignment might have specified that they didn’t have to focus on the 1940’s they just had to mention Hitler and make their story relevant to a new reality Consider Lively’s contribution that she places in the mouth of Henry retired University professor and a man sure of his talent to make history interesting and relevant I myself have a soft spot for what is known as the Cleopatra’s nose theory of history—the proposal that had the nose of Cleopatra been an inch longer the fortunes of Rome would have been different A reductio ad absurdam perhaps but a reference to random causality that makes a lot of sense when we think about the erratic seuence of events that we call history And we find that we home in on the catalysts—the intervention of those seminal figures who will direct events Caesar himself Charlemagne Napoleon Hitler If this man or that—no this person or that—had not existed how differently could things have turned out? Focus upon a smaller canvas—England in the eighteenth century of indeed any other century—and we find again that it is personalities that direct events the human hand that steers the course of timeA decision is made in one place and far away a thousand will die” Then consider Kate Atkinson’s contemplation of this uestion whom she gives to Ursula her protagonist “Don’t you wonder sometimes “ Ursula said “If just one small thing had been changed in the past I mean If Hitler had died at birth or if someone had kidnapped him as a baby and brought him up in—I don’t know say a uaker household—surely things would be different”And it is a great theme to be going along with eliminating those pesky outsized actors from our history After all isn’t life complicated enough with just our own mistakes to manage?In any case the thing that really caught my attention in this book and that I loved above even the story something which Lively spends some time considering—how a story can draw us in is the discussion an older woman a retired teacher of literature as it happens has with a younger economic migrant to whom she is teaching the fundamentals of reading They speak of language words and the passion the younger man has for stories He’d had trouble learning English both spoken and written but he was passionate about stories So she teaches him rather than the language of commerce the language of poetry She gave him stories and his passion for stories developed into a passion for words which he collected assiduously and used ardently He loved and was loved though words It was delightful


  6. says:

    Friends whose opinions I highly value have enjoyed this book I can only explain my personal reaction Perhaps it is best you read other reviews tooPlease start by reading the short GR book description The first paragraph tells you how the story unfolds The idea is that one event leads to another and another and another First of all is this so strange that one event leads to another and another and another? Is it worth writing a whole book about such a rudimentary concept? Secondly it is not true “that entire lives become irrevocably changed” view spoilerat least not in this novel hide spoiler


  7. says:

    I went ahead and marked this five stars for amazing because it's rare that a contemporary novel is uotable The main character is an educated British woman in her seventies recovering from a mugging First sentence The pavement rises up and hits her Terrific right? Here's a bit from when she's ruminating on being in constant pain from the resultant broken hip Ah old age The twilight years that delicate phrase Twilight my foot roaring dawn of a new life like the one you didn't know about We all avert our eyes and then wham you're in there too wondering how the hell this can have happened and maybe it is an early circle of hell and here come the gleeful devils with their pitchforks stabbing and proddingThe range of characters and voices Penelope Lively offers reminds me of George Eliot Not all of the characters are likeable but all of them are human even the rotters The tender romance that develops between a married woman and an immigrant man who's fluent in several languages but finds himself terrifyingly unable to learn to read in English well I'm never going to forget it and it leaves an ache as deep as if I'd lived one of their livesThe only thing I found unconvincing was the idea that a woman in her 40s is put off by rock music thinking of it as something that belongs to her children Hate to break it to Lively but those of us in our 40s grew up with rock and roll Now we're trying to get used to odd little offshoots like Melbourne bounce which I only heard about last week when my son introduced me to it


  8. says:

    A lovely character driven study in which life is impacted by Charlotte’s mugging and injury Set in motion is a chain of events that reuire multiple characters to make thoughtful decisions and choices Aging parents romantic affairs financial crises and academian jealousies are human complications and worries A smoothly written reflection on aging memories books immigrants and love A peaceful read with great insight into everyday life Rounded up from 375 stars


  9. says:

    This is how it all beganWhile the premise of this book the butterfly effect is intriguing the execution was a real turn off Incomplete sentences and a very British style and I love England kept me from getting into it Take the first pageA face is alongside hers Woman Nice woman Or another sentence a few pages later So Just what one didn't want Being a burden and all that What one had hoped to avoid UghSentences are filled with ellipses and narrations are changed abruptly Like when Lively is in Jeremy's mind and then suddenly starts describing him in a different way Jeremy may seem a somewhat contradictory figure Here is someone I feel so much better having decided to chuck this


  10. says:

    How It All Began by Penelope Lively is a delightful novel that illustrates how a single incident sets off a series of ramifications on the lives of characters linked together in a tapestry of interlocking threadsThe catalyst that precipitates the butterfly effect is the mugging and subseuent injury of Charlotte Rainsford an elderly widow Because Charlotte has broken her hip she is obliged to move in temporarily with her daughter Rose and son in law Gerry Her injury sets off a chain of events which include the discovery of an illicit love affair; an on again off again divorce; a pompous deluded elderly academic dabbling in a TV series; the disastrous conseuences of an upscale interior designer’s meeting with an ostensibly wealthy client; and the blossoming of a tender romance between a married woman and an immigrant Along the way are the backstories of each of the charactersCharlotte the central character is a charming independent retired teacher of literature with a passion for reading Her injury affords her the opportunity to keenly observe her daughter’s marriage comparing it with her own To fill up her time while recuperating Charlotte volunteers to teach an immigrant the fundamentals of reading She draws him in by introducing him first to children’s stories and gradually working him up to advanced stories as his reading skills improve Their conversations about reading and the passion they share for stories were some of the most delightful aspects of the novel Charlotte is witty engaging sensitive perceptive and compassionate Her observations about life marriage children and aging are astute These observations intermittently weave in and out of the novel sandwiched between the events unfolding in the lives of the other charactersWhat makes the story so delightful is Penelope Lively’s narrative voice The tone is informal and engaging Her wide range of characters are sympathetically drawn and well developed each speaking with a uniue voice Particularly successful are Lord Henry’s ego inflated out of touch and out of time prognostications Lively moves nimbly between characters and flips back and forth in time with great ease She has an astute eye for physical and emotional detail She knows what to say and what to leave unsaid trusting her reader to fill in the blanks Her asides and commentary reflect her perceptive observations and insights concerning the uirks and foibles of human behavior She does it all with a delightful sense of humor and in a language that is informal upbeat and engaging An entertaining read that provides a light interlude to be sandwiched between heavy readingHighly recommendedYou can find of my book reviews at wwwtamaraaghajaffarcom


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