Spiderweb is the twelfth novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively. Stella Brentwood has led an exotic life for a woman of her time. Her frivolous best friend at Oxford, Nadine, knew early what she wanted: marriage and children. Stella, too, has had her share of passion, but her work as an anthropologist - always the outsider, the ...
Spiderweb is the twelfth novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively. Stella Brentwood has led an exotic life for a woman of her time. Her frivolous best friend at Oxford, Nadine, knew early what she wanted: marriage and children. Stella, too, has had her share of passion, but her work as an anthropologist - always the outsider, the observer, was her priority. Now she has decided to root herself in Somerset landscape. But she finds that village society in England us far more chaotic, more unpredictable, and even more cruel, than she has known before. And that she cannot - or will not - conform to its rules. "She is a writer of great subtlety and understanding, and this is her best novel since Moon Tiger, which won the Booker Prize in 1987". (The Scotsman). "Evokes an escalating atmosphere of menace...Lively at her deceptively easy-to-read best". (Daily Mail). 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 other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Next to Nature, Art; Perfect Happiness; Passing On; City of the Mind; Cleopatra's Sister; Heat Wave; Beyond the Blue Mountains, a collection of short stories; Oleander, Jacaranda, a memoir of her childhood days in Egypt; Spiderweb; her autobiographical work, A House Unlocked; The Photograph; Making It Up; Consequences; Family Album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and How It All Began. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours List, and DBE in 2012. Penelope Lively lives in London.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-02-01 While Lively's novels always reflect the ironies that life delivers to people looking elsewhere at the time, their insights generally occur in subtle, satisfying observations about society and human nature. Here again she writes of a woman whose interpretation of events is distorted by inbred expectations and the failure to see clearly. Newly retired, unmarried and childless, social anthropologist Stella Brentwood buys a cottage in England's West Country, a region of stolid farmers and bucolic charm. Yet she finds it difficult to settle in: for a professional observer who easily integrated herself into communities in Egypt, Malta and the Orkney Islands, she feels oddly unmoored in her native land. Two people with whom she reestablishes contactęthe widowed husband of her best friend at Oxford and a former colleague, a female archeologistęawaken memories of Stella's youth, of her one great love, another man who wanted to marry her and the demands of a peripatetic life that prevented her from establishing bonds or maintaining commitment. As Stella adopts a dog, learns about such local institutions as the general store and ruminates on the passage of time and the long shadow of past decisions, she remains unaware of the whirlwind of verbal abuse and simmering violence in the house just down the lane, where an emotionally deranged woman, her husband and her damaged adolescent sons are time bombs about to impact on Stella's life. Lively wisely avoids melodrama in the denouement, choosing instead to suggest Stella's poignant realization that her detachment, independence and self-sufficiency will determine her future as well as her past. Though the leisurely pace and purposefully digressive narrative are somewhat slow to build suspense, Lively's perceptive vision about the insularity of modern life rings true. (Apr.)
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