“Consequences” by Penelope Lively

It is 20 years – and more than 20 books of fiction and non-fiction later – since the English writer Penelope Lively won the Booker Prize for “Moon Tiger”. Her new book,”Consequences” has all the charm and elegant understatement for which she is renowned.It is set in England and follows the love stories of three generations of one family. She concentrates on the women and shows how in each case they follow their heart, even when they are breaking conventional, society-based traditions.

The first pair leave London for a very rough, though beautiful, cottage in Somerset. There are truly lovely descriptions of the countryside, as well as their life together as Matt Faraday succeeds in making a living as artist-engraver. World War ll brings tragedy, and he is killed in action. By a series of extraordinary, but quite believable circumstances, the grand-daughter of this pair eventually follows her own passion for art and publishing and winds up at the original Somerset cottage – with an ending that even Penelope Lively doesn’t quite disclose.

Lively writes of the periods she knows so of course the book is dated – as shown by the touching photograph of Victoria Station in war-time London on the cover of the book. It only adds to the beauty of “Consequences”.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall