When… Charlotte is mugged and breaks her hip, her daughter Rose cannot accompany her employer Lord Peters to Manchester, which means his niece Marion has to go instead, which means she sends a text to her lover which is intercepted by his wife, which is… just the beginning in the ensuing chain of life-altering events.
In this engaging, utterly absorbing and brilliantly told novel, Penelope Lively shows us how one random event can cause marriages to fracture and heal themselves, opportunities to appear and disappear, lovers who might never have met to find each other and entire lives to become irrevocably changed.
Funny, humane, touching, sly and sympathetic, How It All Began is a brilliant sleight of hand from an author at the top of her game.
"Approaching her 80th year, Lively’s sense of humour lives up to her name. . .Whatever your age, HOW IT ALL BEGAN is a splendid tonic."
". . . she is a writer of craft and sagacity and such old-fashioned virtues trump the chic but meretricious every time."
"One of our most talented writers has written an elegant, witty work of fiction, deceptively simple, emotionally and intellectually penetrating. . ."
New York Times Book Review
"The ever-productive, ever-graceful Penelope Lively returns to several pet themes-memory, history and the powerful role of happenstance in reshaping lives-with a fresh and charming novel. ..."
"Startling and soothing, uncommonly paced, this is a book to treasure.. . Three cheers for this gorgeous writing."
"Wonderful . . . British treasure Penelope Lively examines the effects of a seemingly random crime on a group of London acquaintances and strangers."
"The ruling vision of master British novelist Lively's latest delectably tart and agile novel is the Butterfly Effect, which stipulates that 'a very small perturbation' can radically alter the course of events. . . ."
"Lively delivers her story about these intertwined lives with faultless dexterity, sly humor, keen insight, and deft economy . . . A feel-good masterpiece that will delight faithful fans as well as those new to the work of this consummate storyteller."
"More stylish than many writers half her age . . . Lively knows a thing of two about storytelling. Her veteran understanding of the function of narrative in our lives is impressive but lightly worn. . . . Her candour is refreshing, and reminds us that you don't have to lie to yourself to live life finely until the very end."
"As always, Lively has a precise control of the comic, and an ear for dialogue honed over more than 40 years of writing."
Independent on Sunday
"Lively remains a sublime storyteller. . . . She has us riveted with curiosity as to what will happen next, yet also keeps us consistently aware of the nature of the illusion."
"A deftly constructed, always enjoyable novel."
"Lively’s style has a beautiful economy, and she can be wickedly funny. . . This is classic Penelope Lively – deeply comical, essentially kind-hearted, wonderfully written and seasoned with a rare wisdom."