Moon Tiger, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


Claudia Hampton, a beautiful, famous writer, lies dying in hospital.

But, as the nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, she is plotting her greatest work: a history of the world and in the process, my own'.

Gradually she re-creates the rich mosaic of her life and times, conjuring up those she has known.

There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool, conventional daughter; and Tom, her one great love, both found and lost in wartime Egypt.

Penelope Lively's Booker Prize-winning novel weaves an exquisite mesh of memories, flashbacks and shifting voices, in a haunting story of loss and desire.




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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Moon tiger is a brilliant novel by the award-winning author Penelope Lively. In 1987, she was awarded the Booker Prize for her novel Moon tiger. Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt and spent her early youth, including the years of the Second World War there, from 1933 to 1945. She recorded her early memories of life in Cairo and Alexandria in her memoir, Oleander, Jacaranda. A childhood perceived (1994). Moon tiger is also describes that period in Egypt, but by a protagonist who is at least 20 years older.In Moon tiger, Claudia Hampton, a historian, passing in and out of consciousness remembers her life and times. The narrative is interspersed with fragments of a book about the history of the world, which Hampton had been working on. Thus, the Second World War is fought against the setting of ancient history. This perception is stronger in the mind. As E.M. Forster in Aspects of the novel described the authors congregating, imagining: the English novelists as seated together in a room, a circular room, a sort of British Museum reading-room – all writing their novels simultaneously. Likewise, Claudia Hampton's perception of history is circular, rather than linear: she cannot "write chronologically of Egypt" (p. 80) In Claudia's mind everything is there, simultaneously.This motive is worked out throughout the novel, along the lines of Claudia's life. Her love for Tom, their still-born child, her marriage marriage with Jasper and her daughter Lisa. As she passes back and forth into consciousness, she passes back and forth into episodes of history, world history as well as her life history, which coincide in Egypt, as later, personal and world history intersect in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The idea of the circularity of history is reflected in the circular shape of the "moon tiger", the slowly burning coil.Moon tiger is a beautifully conceived novel, written in a fine style, close to the prose style of Iris Murdoch. The main idea of the circular, or instantaneous nature of history is exquisite, and in making the main character in the novel a historian, the novel offers ample material for the reader to ponder the relation and differences between time and history.

Review by

Wow. A wonderful book about a woman called Claudia looking back on her life as death approaches. As she acknowledges, historical events are open to all kinds of interpretation and the events of her life are often presented from different points of view. Or, as Claudia is narrating, we should accept that these different points of view are actually her interpretations of how the other people involved have reacted and felt. Claudia would appear to be a difficult character on the surface, with the ability to be cruel and unthinking, but she is delightful. She tells the two love stories of her life with sparse language, but this does not stop the emotion coming through.Other reviews contain much that I would agree with, so I just wanted to write that this book contains one of my favourite quotes. A key character's thoughts on their impending demise: "One resents being axed from the narrative, apart from anything else. I'd have liked to know the outcome." I feel a similar frustration at knowing that I won't be around to see what happens next.

Review by

I have to admit that this has been a difficult book to reconcile myself with. Not only did the premise of reading about an elderly woman on her deathbed sound a little depressing but our main protagonist neither said nor did very much to endear me throughout the initial few chapters.Claudia Hampton is a 76 year old woman; terminally ill and compiling her 'History of the World', a history that quickly descends into reminiscing about her life, the people within it, and the events that have shaped her. Throughout the sporadic retelling of her history, which occurs quite naturally and not necessarily chronologically as she slips in and out of consciousness, we meet significant characters and are transported through two world wars, the stark desert landscape of a besieged Egypt and an earth shattering romance to the present day to observe a strained and awkward daughter, a self-absorbed lover and a tortured, Hungarian artist visiting her bedside.Although I struggled to get along with Claudia at first, upon reflection I get the feeling that Lively has quite deliberately created a woman who the reader isn't necessarily going to warm to right away. Why, after all, should we always been indulged like children and feel comfortable with every character we encounter? As a professional (albeit controversial) historian and war correspondent, she is a strong, opinionated, compelling character whose ramblings betray some intriguing points of view. On the other hand, I found her to be obnoxious, arrogant, self-centered, cold and superior, meaning that I spent the first few chapters wondering exactly why I should care about her life at all!That aside, Lively did a fairly good job at crawling back some of my compassion, although her (almost) mother-like relationship with Lazlo didn't quite do it, her passionate relationship with Tom, an officer fighting out in the desert in Egypt during WWII, certainly did. In this short portion of the book we could almost be reading the internal thoughts of a completely different woman; soft, loving and refreshingly vulnerable.It is very difficult to really adore a book when you can't completely sympathise with characters or situations (e.g. I found her relationship with her brother Gordan to be a little disturbing, you'll have to read the book to learn more!) but I do relish a challenge and I do admire strong female characters. Do persevere with this book. It is very well-written, quite compelling and does create a bit of conflict in your mind. And if you persevere for just one thing, stick it out for the end. The final chapter contains some of the most beautiful and poignant passages I have read over the past couple of years. Claudia's honest approach to both her situation and the legacy she will leave behind is both admirable and thought-provoking.

Review by

Claudia Hampton is a beautiful, famous writer, old now, dying in a hospital. The nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, but she is unfazed, quietly plotting her greatest work :a history of the world, and by this she means her own.Claudia is not necessarily a likable woman. I wondered throughout the story how she would have fared if she had been any less than beautiful? But that hardly matters. I loved this book for the amazing prose and the mosaic storytelling, effortlessly switching from present to past, exquisitely shifting from one point of view to another, the personal details amidst the vastness of history. There is her adored brother, Gordon; Jasper, the charming, playboy lover; Lisa, her sadly conventional daughter; and her one great love, a soldier found in the blowing sands of wartime Egypt. The story of Claudia's life is indeed masterfully told in this Booker Prize Winner. Here are a few of my favorite Claudia quotes (I think I used a half of tin of those Book Darts!):"Shall it or shall it not be linear history? I've always thought a kaleidoscope view might be an interesting heresy. Shake the tube and see what comes out. Chronology irritates me. There is no chronology inside my head. I am composed of a myriad Claudias who spin and mix and part like sparks of sunlight on water." (page 2--Yup, smitten already, I was!)"If feminism had been around then I'd have taken it up, I suppose; it would have needed me." (page 14--Did I mention she was arrogant?)We will win the war, says her true love. "Not because the Lord's intervention or because justice will prevail but because in the last resort we have greater resources. Wars have little to do with justice. Or valor or sacrifice or the other things traditionally associated with them...War has been much misrepresented, believe me. It's had disgracefully good press." (page 102)And one from Gordon for good measure: " 'Mad opportunists,' says Gordon. 'Tito. Napoleon. That's not real history. History is the grey stuff. Products. Systems of government. Climates of opinion. It moves slowly. That's why you get impatient with it. You look for spectacle.' " (page 186)Definitely recommended! Four stars.

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