Louise Guinness

Threads of Life

Consequences

By

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In her latest book, which tells the stories of three generations of women, and the men who love them, Penelope Lively presents us with a wholesome vision of England. It begins in 1935, when a debutante called Lorna elopes with a wood engraver, upsetting her mother’s plans to make a brilliant marriage. In a remote cottage in Somerset Lorna learns to skin rabbits, grow vegetables and keep chickens. Lively excels on the subject of tenderness, and this love affair is finely drawn; Lorna and Matt treat each other with kindness, humour and wonder. They have a daughter, Molly, but then war breaks out; by the time Matt volunteers and is sent to Crete, the reader has a sense of foreboding. The tension, and Lorna’s heart, is broken in 1941 when the postman approaches ‘neither smiling nor waving, … the man is beyond apology; he is felled by what he has to do, made speechless. He simply holds out the telegram.’

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