by Penelope Lively (2007)

In her most touching novel yet, Penelope Lively writes about a young woman, her daughter and her granddaughter, their contrasting lives and their achievement of love.

Lorna escapes her conventional Kensington family to marry an artist, Matt. They settle in a small cottage in Somerset, where their daughter Molly is born. But World War II puts an end to their immense happiness. Molly will have to wait longer to find love as she gamely grapples with work and sex in 1960s London, while Ruth, Lorna's granddaughter, has to wait longer still.

An enthralling examination of interweaving love and history, Consequences pinpoints the moments when three women in very different times find love.


Penelope Lively's latest novel begins in 1935 with an unhappy rich girl sitting weeping on a bench in St. James's Park. Nearby, a young man sketches the ducks. Their accidental meeting will later be described as the opening of a game of consequences, from which flows a long, rich narrative. Lively's chronicling of the experience of love in the lives of three generations of women in one family enables her to explore the changing tides of English society and the role of women throughout. (Carol Birch, Independent)

Searching for a cottage she has never visited, Ruth - the youngest of the three heroines in Consequences - gets lost. "Trees arched suddenly over the lane, so that she was in the centre of a leafy sphere through which sunlight splashed down on the road ahead. The trees ended, the hedges rose again. A straight bit. Another bend. Uphill again, and now at the crest of the hill the lane was blocked. There was a challenge."

To readers familiar with Penelope Lively's novels, this is characteristic. Not simply the scenario - the individual overwhelmed by the landscape, the spirit of place greater and more enduring than that of the person, but the style. Lively conjures up rich colour and feeling so sensuously, but austerely, confining herself for the most part to simple words and taut syntax.
(Matthew Dennison, The Times)

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