Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.
Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Next to Nature, Art; Perfect Happiness; Passing On; City of the Mind; Cleopatra’s Sister; Heat Wave; Beyond the Blue Mountains, a collection of short stories; Oleander, Jacaranda, a memoir of her childhood days in Egypt; Spiderweb; her autobiographical work, A House Unlocked; The Photograph; Making It Up; Consequences; Family Album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and How It All Began.
The elderly Claudia Hampton, a best-selling author of popular history; lies alone in a London hospital bed. Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness, but she imagines writing a history of the world. Instead, Moon Tiger is her own history, the life of a strong, independent woman, with its often contentious relations with family and friends. At its center — forever frozen in time, the still point of her turning world — is the cruelly truncated affair with Tom, a British tank commander whom Claudia knew as a reporter in Egypt during World War II.
When you are able to be with a person and there is no need to talk, something has happened.
Forever, reading has been central, the necessary fix, the support system. Her life has been informed by reading. She has read not just for distraction, sustenance, to pass the time, but she has read in a state of primal innocence, reading for enlightenment, for instruction, even. … 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 an essential foodstuff, who could starve without.
Giving presents is one of the most possessive things we do, did you realize that? It’s the way we keep a hold on other people. Plant ourselves in their lives.
Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.