Moon Tiger Kindle æ Paperback

The elderly Claudia Hampton a best selling author of popular history lies alone in a London hospital bed Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness but she imagines writing a history of the world Instead Moon Tiger is her own history the life of a strong independent woman with its often contentious relations with family and friends At its center — forever frozen in time the still point of her turning world — is the cruelly truncated affair with Tom a British tank commander whom Claudia knew as a reporter in Egypt during World War II


10 thoughts on “Moon Tiger

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    “The voice of history of course is composite Many voices all the voices that have managed to get themselves heard Some louder than others naturally My story is tangled with the stories of others – Mother Gordon Jasper Lisa and one other person above all their voices must be heard also thus shall I abide by the conventions of history I shall respect the laws of evidence Of truth whatever that may be But truth is tied to words to print to the testimony of the page Moments shower away the days of our lives vanish utterly insubstantial than if they had been invented Fiction can seem enduring than reality”If you were to read an account of the settling of America by the founding fathers this ‘history’ would be completely different from the one that would have been written by the Native Americans had our ancestors allowed such a narrative to be considered If you were to ask me or my mother about my childhood you would very likely hear two distinct versions of that tale One might focus on pain and frustration perhaps unfairly so while the other would express joy and sacrifice Which story is the ‘right’ story? They would likely both be correct in their own fashion but what we learn as ‘truth’ depends on what we read and with whom we converse “There is no chronology inside my head I am composed of a myriad Claudias who spin and mix and part like sparks of sunlight on water The pack of cards I carry around is forever shuffled and re shuffled there is no sequence everything happens at once”If I had a list of unlikable characters that I admired despite all faults Claudia Hampton would be ranked near the very top she has her fair share at least according to others and even herself This slim novel will be esteemed as one of my prized possessions When I turned the last page I very nearly began all over again I simply loved everything about it – the structure the voice the setting and the prose I wanted to climb out of my life and into another We meet Claudia as she lies in the hospital during her final days of a ravaging disease She is an historian and a journalist She proclaims to all that she is writing a history of the world A history through her eyes not just about the world but her relation to that world She readily admits this version could be biased yet it is the story that she wants to tell It is her truth as she experienced it I couldn’t help but think however that if we were open with one another and shared of ourselves in the moment then we wouldn’t necessarily be compelled to finally ‘tell all’ on our deathbeds would we? Of course the human mind doesn’t always work that way We can be closed off private We have a myriad of reasons for not revealing ourselves to one another As a result what others see is a different version than the one we may carry in our hearts “You are not as you think omniscient You do not know everything you certainly do not know me You judge and pronounce you are never wrong I do not argue with you I simply watch you knowing what I know Knowing what you do not know”The narrative is sometimes told in the first person and then may quickly jump to the third person The perspective is usually focused on Claudia but at times it is shifted to another’s point of view – her daughter her brother her sister in law These shifts are done briefly but allow Lively to emphasize her point that there are in fact varying ‘histories’ attached to each person depending on whose lens we are looking through Further shifts in time are frequent as well I never found this to be at all confusing As Claudia declares one’s memories don’t flow chronologically they are constantly jumping around in time from moment to moment “The day is refracted and the next and the one after that all of them broken up into a hundred juggled segments each brilliant and self contained so that the hours are no longer linear but assorted like bright sweets in a jar”A segment of this novel takes place in Cairo during World War II The author’s note indicates that she was born there and spent her childhood in that city during the war This is evident in her remarkably evocative writing I wanted to spend time there She speaks of memories smells sights and all those things that one attaches to a certain place “I have seen Cairo since the war years and that time seemed to shimmer as a mirage over the present The Hiltons and the Sheratons were real enough the teeming jerry built dun coloured traffic ridden deafening city but in my head was that other potent place conjured up by the smell of dung and paraffin the felt shod tittuping sound of a donkey’s hooves kites floating in a Wedgwood blue sky the baroque gaiety of Arabic script”There’s so much I could say about this novel but I’m at a loss to really try to do it justice I can hardly believe that a whole life is packed into just over 200 pages yet it was Penelope Lively’s artistry is captivating Gosh I’m even smitten with her name I don’t know if everything she’s written is this brilliant but I’m on a quest to find out I immediately ordered another of her books upon finishing this one “When I look at those years I look at them alone What happened there happens now only inside my head – no one else sees the same landscape hears the same sounds knows the sequence of events There is another voice but it is one that only I hear Mine ours – is the only evidence”