Consequences

Consequences

by Penelope Lively

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The Booker Prize winning author's sweeping saga of three generations of women

"One of the most accomplished writers of fiction of our day" (The Washington Post ) follows the lives and loves of three women—Lorna, Molly, and Ruth—from World War II-era London to the close of the century. Told in Lively's incomparable prose, this is a powerful story of growth, death, and renewal, as well as a penetrating look at how the major and minor events of the twentieth century changed lives. By chronicling the choices and consequences that comprise one family's history, Lively offers an intimate and profound reaffirmation of the force of connection between generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143113430
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/27/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 324,677
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Penelope Lively grew up in Egypt but settled in England after the war and took a degree in history at St Anne's College, Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. She was married to the late Professor Jack Lively, has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren, and lives in Oxfordshire and London.

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave.

Penelope Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 program on children's literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.

Hometown:

London, England

Date of Birth:

March 17, 1933

Place of Birth:

Cairo, Egypt

Education:

Honors Degree in Modern History, University of Oxford, England, 1955

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[Lively's] characters are beguiling, and her blend of romance and stinging social commentary is tonic." —-Booklist Starred Review

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Exploring the relationship between past and present, and the connections that lead people to retrace the steps of their ancestors, sometimes unconsciously, Penelope Lively’s fourteenth work, Consequences, journeys through time and space.

The story begins with a chance encounter on a park bench—Lorna, a girl increasingly uncomfortable with her well-to-do London lifestyle, meets Matt Faraday and for the first time feels as though she can control her own future. Matt is an artist, a working-class “tradesman” of whom her parents cannot approve. Still, Lorna and Matt fall recklessly, madly in love. Ignoring the as-yet far-off rumble of World War II and the sweeping changes it will bring, they marry quickly and without ceremony, eschewing the trappings and expectations of both their families, and head for a secluded cottage in Somerset. But despite their efforts to shut out the world, the Faradays’ idyllic life is devastated by the war when Matt is called to action and is killed overseas.

Twenty years later, Matt and Lorna’s daughter, Molly, turns a long-shot job interview into a position rubbing elbows with higher society—the world of her now-dead mother and distant grandparents—where she is introduced to wealthy James Portland. Despite his marriage to another woman, the two begin an affair. When she becomes pregnant, James proposes divorcing his estranged wife to marry her. Instead of accepting and settling into marriage with a man she does not love, Molly challenges the assumptions of her era to forge a life for herself and her daughter, Ruth, based on staunch independence and a kind of bohemian freedom. But at mid-life she feels incomplete and fears that she has not given her daughter the tools with which to build her own happiness.

In the end it is Ruth—raised in a family untraditional in every way with the specter of her grandparents’ romance always haunting the edge of her experiences—whose disconnection with a sense of self and dissatisfaction with her own life choices leads her to her grandfather Matt’s grave in Crete—and back to 1941. And with a labyrinthine journey to the Somerset cottage, Ruth’s questions about her place in the inexorable forward-march of time (and its strange ability to bend back on itself) may finally lead her to something she didn’t know she’d been missing.

A love story spanning three generations, Consequences is a powerful story of growth, death, and rebirth of one family set against the backdrop of the twentieth century—its major and minor events, its shaping of public consciousness, and its changing of lives.

 


ABOUT PENELOPE LIVELY

“Penelope Lively grew up in Egypt but settled in England after the war and took a degree in history at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors. She was married to the late Professor Jack Lively, has a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren, and lives in London.

Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mar. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra’s Sister, Heat Wave, and The Photograph, which was a Today show summer book club selection.

Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 program on children’s literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Over the course of the novel, there is a lot of movement into and out of London. Discuss the circumstances that cause each of the following characters to make this move: the Bradleys; Matt and Lorna; Molly; the unnamed masses of women and children.
     
  • The houses in this novel serve as metaphors, both with regard to their inhabitants and to the greater themes of the novel. What do you think the author meant to convey through her use of the Brunswick Gardens home, the Somerset cottage, and the Fulham house?
     
  • On page 102, Molly wonders if she will turn out like her pragmatic but dispassionate roommate, Glenda, or “the other sort,” the kind of reckless-in-love woman she imagines her mother to have been. What type of woman does she become? How is the foundation for her adult self laid by the experiences of her youth? What do you think influences our development more: family upbringing or the times in which we live?
     
  • Though the focus remains on the maverick Faraday women, how does Simon’s relationship with his partner, Tim, reflect the relationships of the women in his family? Why do you think the author chose to write Simon as a gay man?
     
  • Molly is surprised and admiring of Sam’s “split personality”—that he balances his mental work as a poet with the more hands-on work as a mechanic. Later, Ruth compares her “think-work” as a journalist to Sam’s. What comment do you think this novel makes on the nature of art as work and work as art? How have views about what constitutes “real work” changed throughout the twentieth century, according to the novel?
     
  • The characters of this novel seek to define and redefine themselves in relation to each other, particularly through the vehicle of love. Discuss the different meetings and love relationships between these characters: Matt and Lorna; Lucas and Lorna; Molly and James; Molly and Sam; Ruth and Peter; and Ruth and Brian.
     
  • Molly and Sam meet at a poetry festival that concludes with a panel discussion of the diminished role of the poet/artist in politics. Later, Ruth and her Cretan guide, Manolo, observe that most words written are “about sheep and oxen,” only concerned with the practical aspects of daily life and survival. How does literature and art affect your own worldview? Do you think art has the power, and even an obligation, to engage in public discourse? Why or why not?
     
  • What incidents prompt Lorna, Molly, and Ruth to each consider the intricate ways in which past, present, and future double back on themselves and on each other?
     
  • On page 257, Ruth and Brian discuss “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rip Van Winkle,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and other stories as comments on the struggle to defeat space and time. Do you think Consequences falls into the same category? Why or why not? Use examples from the book to support your opinion.
     
  • Penelope Lively takes you on a journey through several decades of major social and cultural upheaval—though the story takes place in England, a nearly parallel set of events were transforming American culture. Using the characters as examples, describe how views on issues such as education of women, social strata, career choices and progression, marriage, and sex have changed throughout the twentieth century.
     
  • Why do you think the author chose “Consequences” as the title of this novel?

Customer Reviews

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Consequences 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely old fashioned novel of love and loss. The setting in London and in the English countryside takes you to another place and time. The time that Lorna and Matt and baby Molly lived in the cottage in the country is so magical and so sad when it comes to an end. You care so much for them and for Molly and want her to find love and happiness in her life in London.
momwifeattorneygolfer More than 1 year ago
Ms. Lively is a GREAT writer. So much better written than the majority of what is on the best seller lists.
jacketscoversread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across Consequences on GoodReads and added it to my list of books to read because I was intrigued by the idea of a multigenerational book. However, Consequences is a multigenerational book that was poorly executed.Lively¿s best characters, Lorna and Molly, exist at the beginning of the book but by the time you finally get to ¿know¿ Ruth, Molly¿s daughter and Lorna¿s granddaughter, I had lost all interest in her plight. As a whole, the characters were very one-dimensional and I couldn¿t help but wish that Lively would have dropped the whole idea of a multigenerational book and instead concentrated solely on Lorna and Matt.Yet, I did like the overall flow of the book. I can see how it would be perceived as ¿choppy¿ and ¿sporadic¿ but I felt that it was easy to read and follow along with.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Consequences is the story of three generations of women: Lorna, an unhappy rich girl who marries an artist, Matt. Matt is killed in World War II, leaving Lorna to raise their daughter, Molly. Molly becomes pregnant but refuses to marry the father, whom she doesn't love. Her daughter, Ruth, rounds out the trilogy and brings the story back full cycle by visiting her grandfather's grave and returning to the cottage where her grandparents lived.I was expecting to read a story about large consequences based on choices the characters made, but this is the story of the smaller, everyday consequences of life. The writing was lovely, but the plot didn't carry enough weight to keep me interested in the lives of Molly and Ruth.
gypsysmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to this book as a download from my library. This family saga starts with two young people who fall in love prior to World War II. The young man is an artist and the couple retire to a small cottage in rural England so he can concentrate on his art. Of course, World War II intervenes and he never come home. His daughter and his granddaughter have all heard the story of this tragic romance. When his granddaughter meets the man now living in the cottage who has discovered some forgotten art it transforms her life.A lovely story with very interesting, strong women.
Crypto-Willobie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had like two other books by Penelope Lively quite a bit (Passing On and The Photograph) so was looking forward to this, I was disappointed -- it wasn't terrible but the characterization seemed flat. It did seem to improve a bit as it went along, and I wondered if that was intentional-- that the people farthest back in time were distant and hard to know where the people more contemporary with me were easier to relate to...
lissieanne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book that takes you on an interesting ride through time from the main character to, in time, into the future with her granddaughter. Having never met her grandparents and wanting to know more she looks into her past and shows the readers a different view of the story they read just pages before. ;) I would highly suggest it to anyone who would like to read something meaningful, with a historical fiction based in London over many different time eras, and of course a twist of romance. :)
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel begins when a woman from a wealthy family and a poor artist meet, fall in love, and marry with parental disapproval in 1930s London. What follows is a narrative of three generations of women in the family today. It's a lyrical text that seems oddly plotless, just kind of multi-generational vignettes. In fact the title is an interesting choice. All fiction in a sense is about consequences - a protagonist makes a choice and then must respond to the consequences. Yet this book seems to be less about consequences than your typical novel. Anyhow, it's a short book but it took me forever to complete, so I think that says something.
emitnick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three generations of women grow up in 20th century England. Lorna breaks away from her stultifying upper-middle-class background to marry an artist - after having a daughter together, Lorna's husband dies in WW2. Lorna's daughter Molly grows up fatherless and almost motherless - Lorna dies in childbirth after marrying again - and becomes a forthright and self-sufficient woman who chooses not to marry after becoming pregnant by her rich lover. Instead, she successfully raises her daughter Ruth on her own. Ruth is lackadaisical - she drifts into jobs, drifts into a marriage and motherhood. Lorna's and Molly's stories were fascinating, as they illuminated a key time in British history and because those women are so strong and interesting. Ruth never came alive for me - I had the feeling the author had no real affection or understanding of her (and maybe of her - and my own!- entire generation). So the book started strong for me but petered out - although Molly does finally find strong love at the end, a very heart-warming episode.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am obviously feeling rather crotchety this week. All my comments should be ignored. But, nevertheless, I found this book predictable and slow going. The characters never struck me as all that brave. The story went on and on¿.Who knows why I¿m not raving over it? But I am not.
fourbears on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
liked this novel. I always enjoy a Penelope Lively novel. This one is superbly written. The tone of the novel is soft and thoughtful, with little that jars. Considering the fact that two of the three heroines in the novels die prematurely, as does the man who's the center focus of the novel, that's an achievement. Lively has a way of muting the traumatic by focusing on ancillary things. The way one gets through periods of great sorrow or stress by cleaning the bathtub as it's never been cleaned before--or some other task that's inconsequential in the fact of one¿s feelings. Several parts of the book begin after a death has occurred and the reader picks up the basic fact and the details bit by bit. Each new part indicates the passage of some years and a new focus; there are no chapters, just informal break which also indicate smaller gaps in the action. I liked that technique. It avoids "scenes" in a way that's not covering up emotion (the way my mother discouraged "scenes") but enhancing it.It's the story of three generations of women, mothers and daughters, starting in the 1930ies, and their small, odd, unconventional family where the women are always at the center. The three women are distinctly different characters without being terribly different in their basic sensibilities and approaches to life. They could so easily just have been reincarnations of the same character. There might be a problem, I'm thinking though, in moving as quickly as Lively does from one main character to another and depending on a dead artist (who died in WWII at the end of the first section) to unify the book. The conventional generational novel is longer, with a broader focus, more events, more characters so there's more closure when one moves from one generation to the next. This novel is much sparser and can't really be compared with a generational novel. It is a bit artificial to kill off two of the women; it needs to happen for the novel to work though.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Penelope Lively's novel, Consequences, 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, sometimes rich narrative. Lively uses the chronicling of the experience of love in the lives of three generations of women, beginning in the 1930s with Lorna, then focusing on Molly in the post-war years and finally rounding off the tale with up-to-date Ruth. But this is no 'family saga' novel. The book is about the way time changes perceptions, and about memory and loss.This is not a long novel but it has a certain richness and covers such a swathe of time that it feels as if you have absorbed a great deal. The prose is elegant, the plotting meticulous but it seems sporadic as it jumps from decade to decade. Lively paints with quick, broad brushstrokes, then suddenly paints in a detail that brings her characters and their emotions to life on the page. The history of seventy years is sketched out in less than 300 pages, and yet you feel you know the principal characters intimately. Lively is a master at telling the reader more by writing less. However, I feel Consequences is a multigenerational book that was poorly executed, for while Lively includes the portions of the characters lives that highlight the main women, both the men and the background events fade away, much like old wallpaper that has lost its patina. Some of the male characters are sketchy but the three women - in many ways, one woman seen at different times - are sensitively portrayed. As a whole, the characters were very one-dimensional and I couldn¿t help but wish that Lively would have dropped the whole idea of a multigenerational book and instead concentrated solely on Lorna and Matt. A very modern book, Consequences is in some respects deeply traditional. True love is the ultimate fulfillment for all these women. It was not sufficient for this reader.
cauyeung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book! It covered three generations in a sparse 258 pages. And there's no shortage of food for thought. It started with a love story just before the Second World War and came right up to the 21st century. It came full circle with the granddaughter going back to the original cottage her grandparents started off married life in and seeing the first time where and how they lived. Among the treasures - frescoes her grandfather painted in the old cottage and for her, a new relationship. It's a wonderful story written in fine style.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely story of three generations of women in an English family. Lorna starts it all off by rebelling against her wealthy family and their dreams for her and marrying Matt, a starving artist. They are madly in love and settle in the English countryside in a cottage with no electricity and dote on their daughter Molly, until World War II intervenes. Then Molly's story is told along with Ruth's, Molly's daughter. Enjoyable, well-written, fun read. It was a nice change from some of the "heavier" books I have been reading.
michael09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Lively's best novels. It explores how human characteristics are modified and preserved over generations. Starting with the meeting of a young couple, the novel describes the ways in which their children and grandchildren are recognizably related to each other in tastes and choices. In historical terms, it begins in the 1940s and ends in the 1970s. . .Beautifully written, it manages to be detailed, laconic and moving.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really wanted the book to completely immerse me into the time, but the author only chose to disclose details to further the story instead of painting each picture, as I had intended to read. I did believe it was eye-opening to over time read through different people's percepectives, but fell short when a personality of a character told the reader what she is more likely to do, (instead the author decided to again further her point along). I did appreciate learning about different trades, but struggled to complete the last few pages as there was no climax and predictability by that point was becoming old.