The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories

The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories

A glimmering collection of new short fiction from the Booker Prize winner. “Lively writes with an astringent blend of sympathy and detachment, emotional wisdom and satiric wit.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times In such acclaimed novels as The Photograph, Family Album, and How It All Began, Penelope Lively has captivated readers with her singular blend of wisdom, elegance, and humor. Now, in her first story collection in decades, Lively takes up themes of history, family, and relationships across varied and vividly rendered settings. In the title story, a Mediterranean purple swamp hen chronicles the secrets and scandals of Quintus Pompeius’s villa, culminating with his narrow escape from the lava and ash of Vesuvius. “Abroad” captures the low point of an artist couple’s tumultuous European road trip, trapped in a remote Spanish farmhouse and forced to paint a family mural and pitch in with chores to pay for repairs to their broken-down car. Other stories reveal friends and lovers in fateful moments of indiscretion, discovery, and even retribution—as in “The Third Wife,” when a woman learns her husband is a serial con artist and turns a house-hunting trip into an elaborately staged revenge trap. Each of these delightful stories is elevated by Lively’s signature graceful prose and eye for the subtle yet powerfully evocative detail. Wry, charming, and keenly insightful, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories is a masterful achievement from one of our most beloved writers.

Life in the Garden

Life in the Garden

'Rich and unusual, a book to treasure. Few recent gardening books come anywhere close to its style, intelligence and depth. Moves between Lively's own horticultural life and a broad history of gardening' Observer 'Wonderful. A manifesto of horticultural delight' Literary Review 'Beautiful. Perfect for literary garden lovers' Good Housekeeping 'Exquisite and original' Daily Telegraph 'Enchanting. Reading this book is like walking with a wise, humorous guide through a series of garden rooms . . . and finding that vistas suddenly open out, on to history, fashion, politics, reflections on time and the taming of nature' Tablet 'A perfect bedside book. In part it's a memoir of the gardens in Lively's life, starting with the exotic Egyptian garden of her childhood and continuing up to her small present-day garden in a north London square' Sunday Express 'A gentle survey of the garden's place in Western culture, which morphs into a personal meditation on time, memory and a life well lived' i 'Scholarly bedtime reading' The Times, Books of the Year

Making It Up

Making It Up

Look out for Penelope Lively’s new book, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories. Hailed by critics as a benchmark in a career full of award-winning achievements, Making It Up is Penelope Lively's answer to the oft-asked question, "How much of what you write comes from your own life?" What if Lively hadn't escaped from Egypt, her birthplace, at the outbreak of World War II? What would her life have been like if she'd married someone else? From a hillside in Italy to an archaeological dig, the author explores the stories that could have been hers, fashioning a sublime dance between reality and imagination that confirms her reputation as a singular talent.

Family Album

A Novel

Family Album

"In this haunting new novel, the act of forgetting is as strange and interesting as the power of remembering." —The New York Times Book Review Look out for Penelope Lively’s new book, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories. Penelope Lively is renowned for her signature combination of silken storytelling and nuanced human insights. In Family Album, lively masterfully peels back one family's perfect façade to reveal the unsettling truths. All Alison ever wanted was to provide her six children with a blissful childhood. Its creation, however, became an obsession that involved Ingrid, the family au pair. As adults, Paul, Gina, Sandra, Katie, Roger, and Clare return to their family home and as mysteries begin to unravel, each must confront how the consequences of long-held secrets have shaped their lives.

How It All Began

A Novel

How It All Began

A vibrant new novel from Penelope Lively—a wry, wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect Look out for Penelope Lively’s new book, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories. When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends. Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. Brought to life in her hallmark graceful prose and full of keen insights into human nature, How It All Began is an engaging, contemporary tale that is sure to strike a chord with her legion of loyal fans as well as new readers. A writer of rare wisdom, elegance, and humor, Lively is a consummate storyteller whose gifts are on full display in this masterful work. From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Photograph

The Photograph

Look out for Penelope Lively’s new book, The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories. Man Booker Prize–winning novelist Penelope Lively’s latest masterpiece opens with a snapshot: Kath, before her death, at an unknown gathering, holding hands with a man who is not her husband. The photograph is in an envelope marked “DON’T OPEN—DESTROY.” But Kath’s husband does not heed the warning, embarking on a journey of discovery that reveals a tight web of secrets—within marriages, between sisters, and at the heart of an affair. Kath, with her mesmerizing looks and casual ways, moves like a ghost through the memories of everyone who knew her—and a portrait emerges of a woman whose life cannot be understood without plumbing the emotional depths of the people she touched. Propelled by the author’s signature mastery of narrative and psychology, The Photograph is Lively at her very best, the dazzling climax to all she has written before. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Dancing Fish and Ammonites

A Memoir

Dancing Fish and Ammonites

The award-winning author of Moon Tiger reflects on the influences that have shaped her literary life, from her early childhood in Cairo and boarding-school education in England to her love for archaeology and the sweeping changes in 20th-century Great Britain.

Extinct Birds

Extinct Birds

A fascinating tour of extinct birds uses more than three hundred illustrations in full color and black and white to introduce readers to more than eighty species of birds that have disappeared since 1600, including the passenger pigeon and dodo.

Thailand

A Travel Survival Kit

Thailand