Saturday, 9 February 2019

Regretting is always pointless

Moon Tiger "Regretting is always pointless, since there is no undoing". So says Claudia Hampton as she lies dying in a hospital bed. She has been writing "a history of the world. [-] The Life and Times of Claudia H."

Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger is Claudia's story, primarily narrated by Claudia herself, warts and all. Working as a war correspondent in Egypt during WW2, she describes herself as "by far the best looking [woman in a predominantly male occupation]. As well as the most resourceful, the most astute, the least deceivable. And the most immodest." She is dismissive of her brother Gordon's wife Sylvia, and leaves a lot to be desired as a mother, admitting, "I was no good at kissing away tears or telling bedtime stories -any mother can do that: my uses were potentially far more significant." Her actions are not always admirable, but one can't help liking her, and feeling a great deal of sympathy for her.

The writing style may initially put some readers off. Sections shift between Claudia's personal voice and a narrator that tells the story from other characters' points of view. It also moves between the present and past tenses, so readers need to concentrate. It's well worth the effort tho'.

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