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Oleander, Jacaranda


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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. Many of her books, including Going Back, which first appeared as a children's book, and Oleander, Jacaranda, an autobiographical memoir of her childhood days in Egypt, are published in Penguin.Penelope Lively has also written radio and television scripts and has acted as presenter for a BBC Radio 4 programme on children's literature. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.


Oleander, jacaranda . . . jacaranda, oleander . . . they are the same trees but in reverse order, depending on whether you see them on the journey going or returning. In many ways, this childhood memoir, by the winner of the Booker Prize for her novel Moon Tiger ( LJ 3/15/88), is just such a journey. It is an adult reminiscence, based on ``a headful of brilliant frozen moments'' from the author's 12-year sojourn as a British child in Egypt, Palestine, and Sudan in the 1930s and 1940s. It is also a journey of discovery into the nature of childhood perceptions. The wide, brown Nile, the ebony-skinned Nubians, incense-laden Jerusalem, and the stifling heat of Khartoum are experienced as a child would experience them, with Lively's surogate mother, Lucy, providing a chauvinistic filter. In this book Lively has given a heartrending yet historically fascinating account of a little girl who hardly knew her parents; it is a first-rate demonstration of how a child sees.-- Marie L. Lally, Alabama Sch . of Mathematics & Science, Mobile

Lively, the Booker prize-winning British author of Moon Tiger , here recalls her childhood in Egypt from the mid-1930s until her parents divorced in 1945 when she was 12. This intriguing memoir of growing up in another culture relies on Lively's perception of experience rather than on a detailed chronology of events. Her father, whom she rarely saw, was a manager at the Bank of Egypt; her mother was taken up in the expatriate social whirl. Lively's upbringing was left to Lucy, a young English woman, who was first her nurse and then her governess. The author's impressionistic portraits of Egypt, Alexandria and Palestine evoke sights and smells that are, in many respects, no longer accessible. Already suffering emotionally from parental neglect, Lively was further traumatized when her return to England caused her to be separated from Lucy. A sad and engaging reminiscence. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)

So vividly evocative that you can smell the dust and dung, jacaranda and the oleander. It offers potent glimpses of British colonial life 50 years ago: the snake-charmer in the garden; the nine-year old Penelope spying on de Gaulle at Government House... The result is a wise, colourful and touching tale * The Times *

Lively uses the imaginative power of a mature novelist to evoke the sounds, sights and smells of Cairo which is not so much 'another country as another century'

* Independent *

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