City of the Mind, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


City of the Mind is the second novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively. 'This is the city in which everything is simultaneous.

There is no yesterday, nor tomorrow, merely weather, and decay, and construction.' In London's changing heartland, architect Matthew Halland is aware of how the past and the present blend.

It stirs memories of his boyhood, the early years of his daughter Jane and the failed marriage that he has almost put behind him.

Here too is the London of prehistory, of Georgian elegance, of the Blitz.

But Matthew is occupied with constructing a new future for London in Docklands, and with it he begins to forge new beginnings of his own. "A glorious novel". (Observer). "The descriptions of the London Blitz are achingly real". (Sunday Telegraph). 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.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I liked this novel for various reasons. One reason was the overarching theme of London, its ever changing townscape, its people, its variety: like a kaleidoscope being swivelled back and forwards. This multifariousness mirrored Matthew's moods and days, both emotional and businesslike. It was also a subtle novel, with both the burgeoning romance and the problems with the rogue developer never overdone. Matthew's relationship with his daughter was also very well handled as was Lively's depiction of the child's personality. Finally, as with her 'Moon Tiger' a welcome lack of sentimentality.

Review by

Although architect Matthew Halland plays the main part in the story, London is the real character. Set in the early 1990s when London is being rebuilt, reconstructed, renovated, the past occasionally emerges, after all, the past never goes away. Demolishing buildings uncovers memories, vermin, misery, mingled with scientists, exploration, art, and success, to portray a complex living city, always changing. An excellent story that held my attention throughout.