Henrietta Garnett

A Glorious Age

Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time

By

Fig Tree 234pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Ammonites and Leaping Fish is a title as engaging as I suspect the author, Penelope Lively, to be. Born in Cairo in 1933, she was a typical upper-class English child of those times. Her father was a bigwig in the Bank of Egypt and clearly adorable. Her mother, vague and shadowy, appears to have been a cold rather than leaping fish. Both her parents consorted with a now legendary group of writers, painters and bon viveurs: notably, the fastidious poet Robin Fedden, who, with Lawrence Durrell and Bernard Spencer, edited the poetry magazine Personal Landscapes. In those days, Cairo was a cultural hotspot, even if the young Penelope remained largely unaware of its chief attraction: parties at Shepheard’s Hotel with Robin and Renée Fedden, Robert Liddell, Elizabeth David, Lawrence Durrell and others. She does, however, recall Robin turning up and teaching her mother’s cook how to make a delicious-sounding dish of spiced lamb with apricots, nuts and garlic. I can’t help wondering if her memory isn’t playing tricks on her,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,