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. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours List, and DBE in 2012. Penelope Lively lives in London.
Lively recently won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for this deeply moving, elegantly structured novel. The heroine is Claudia Hampton, an unconventional historian and former war correspondent who lies in a hospital bed dying of cancer. Forced inward, Claudia moves randomly across time and place to reconstruct the strata of her life. But ``most lives have their core, their kernel, the vital centre''; Claudia's is the brief, tragic encounter she had in Egypt during the war with Tom Southern, a British tank officer on leave from battle. Tom's voice, along with those of her brother and daughter, joins Claudia's to shape a narrative that is a complex, intricately composed fugue. This haunting evocation of loss is Lively's finest achievement yet.Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.