Monday, March 16, 2009

BOOK: Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively, 208 pages

Celebrate the Author; Booker Prize Winner; Orbis Terrarum: Egypt

Penelope Lively was born in Egypt on March 17, 1933 and spent her childhood there before moving to England. She uses some of her experiences for this book, a Man Booker winner from 1987, which covers the life of Claudia Hampton as she remembers her life from her hospital bed.

Claudia was a war reporter stationed in Egypt during the second world war. It's hard to recap her life because Claudia herself tells her story in a nonlinear fashion, as important parts come to her. I liked how Lively did this, and the jumping around in time, and perspective, should be more confusing than it was, but I found it enjoyable. The major theme of the book is that history is all about perspective and point of view. This gets extended to the story and some scenes are told from different characters perspective a very effective technique.

I really liked seeing the scene from different perspectives.
Seeing the scenes from different perspectives gives the reader insights into the characters.

Claudia has a daughter but leaves her with the grandmothers to raise as she hasn't a maternal bone in her body. There are two great loves in Claudia's life and they really shape her future life. I believed this love story like I didn't in Love in the Time of Cholera, even though both are unfulfilled love in some sense. I liked the relationship with her brother, the closeness some siblings must feel. And I shouldn't have liked Claudia, because she is independent, rude, and abrupt, but I loved her rude abrupt behavior at a time when women weren't rewarded for that sort of behavior or expected to be that way.

Writing a book as a character's memoir seems to be a common type of book, allowing an author to have their character look back over a lifetime of history and to comment on how they perceived events, leading to the idea of an unreliable narrator and leaving the reader to judge whether what is being told is true or if it has been misremembered. It doesn't always work for me (Gilead) but I liked seeing Claudia's life, or the parts she let us see.


  1. Great review. I know what you mean about Claudia's character -- I liked her, even though if I were to meet her in real life I'd probably think she was a real pain in the a**. And, like you, I also enjoyed the scenes told from different perspectives as they enriched the first-person narrative.

  2. I've red Penelope Lively before, but it was such a long time ago that I've forgotten what I thought of her writing. This might be a good one to read as a reminder (seeing as it's so short...). :) Thanks for the review!!

    /Eva - fellow OT-er


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