“How It All Began” by Penelope Lively

The widely-recognized British writer Penelope Lively has done it again in “How it all Began” – a subtle novel full of characters you get to know and believe in from the moment they are introduced.

The only violence comes in the first pages and of course sets the story. Friends as well as strangers rally to help the victim recuperate. We meet an aged Academic, retired, Lord Henry Peters, eager to get on TV or radio or even print with what he considers his invaluable Memoirs. There is the Grannie who helps the attractive East European immigrant with his English, only to have him fall in love with her married daughter. In the interior design business one clever operator meets another, only to have her savings nearly wiped out.

Lively shows the coincidences in life that pull people together – or apart. She is believable and delightful to read, with nineteen novels to her credit, including the most famous “Moon Tiger”, as well as three books of autobiography. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of PEN and the Society of Authors and a recipient of the OBE and CBE.

Review by Anne McDougall