Helen is fifty-two and Edward forty-nine when Dorothy, their mother, dies, ending her reign of terror and leaving them ill-equipped to deal with their lives. Timid, cautious and naive, Helen makes the charming Giles Carnaby, family solicitor, the object of a belated schoolgirl crush, while Edward, free express his sexuality at last, finds it gets the better of him. Dorothy may be dead and buried, but her iron grip continues to hold them in its power.
"PASSING ON is about the essential difficulty of being English, of coping with peculiarly English varieties of guilt, nostalgia, frustration and desire."
"Lively is at her sharpest, alert to every conceivable irony."
Jonathan Coe, Guardian
"The quiet novel will delight Penelope Lively’s devoted readers, of whom the present writer is on…Penelope Lively manages to bestow a quiet satisfaction by doing something that is in effect very difficult but is brought off with becoming modesty. PASSING ON is, for my money, her most attractive novel to date."
Anita Brookner, Spectator
"Start reading this absorbing novel and I promise you the toast will burn and the kettle will boil dry. Don’t, whatever you do, put it down for one second because someone will pinch it."