Review: Moon Tiger – Penelope Lively

Moon Tiger is the story of Claudia, a woman coming to the end of her life, reflecting and drifting back and forth from the past to the current time, both consciously and subconsciously. The book tells the story of “the bit of the twentieth century to which I’ve been shackled, willy-nilly, like it or not”.

Claudia is a journalist and historian, who’s frustration with the boring parts of history lead her to write populist history books, which cover the action. Yet she’s at odds personally with making a living from her profession. Her character comes across as one of those slightly eccentric unpredictable old ladies who are great fun to come across at any point in your day!

Claudia has a child which is clearly an inconvenience – from the tie it makes between her and her ex boyfriend who is the father of their child, Lisa, to the ‘boring’ child and adult she sees Lisa to be. Towards the end of the novel there is some recognition of the possibility that Lisa may actually be more interesting that she gives her credit for, but only a glimmer!

“Children are incredulous. My Lisa was a dull child, but even so she came up with things that pleased and startled me.”

This books raises questions for me about the end of life, and how people at that stage in their life can seem to be a million miles away from the hubbub of every day life and ‘not all there’. However Claudia is still very much a live and active just in her mind not in the present and is frustrated by being trapped in her failing body and people’s perceptions of her.

This is one of the few bookers I’ve found really easy to read and gripping and I felt disappointed when it finished.

Favourite quotes
“Emotion is dormant; it lies quiet, biding it’s time. And then every so often something brings it raging forth”
“It was always mildly satisfying to see British racial complacency matched if not excelled by French xenophobia”

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