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A vibrant new novel from Penelope Livelya wry, wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect

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.

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How It All Began
Average rating
2 / 5
July 7th, 2014
I have to say that the British Speak in this novel was in some respect daunting to get through. However I persevered and got through it. What I didn’t like about this book might be easier to articulate better that what I did like. Let’s start with Charlotte who in no fault of her own was the instigator of all that transpired with all the characters in this book in one way or another, if she weren’t hurt in the mugging, she wouldn’t be displaced in her Daughter Rose’s home, who wouldn’t have met and contemplated leaving her husband Gerry for Anton who was being tutored by Charlotte for English. Rose now unable to travel with her boss Henry to one of his speaking engagements, had Henry enlisting the help of his niece as travel companion Marion, who in turn sent a text to let her boyfriend Jeremy know she would be out of town on an obligation with her uncle, unfortunately the text was intercepted by her boyfriend’s Wife, causing a ripple effect that initiated Divorce proceedings by his wife on his adulteress self. This was all a bit overdone with the situations and people but the worst part was how the author portrayed Stella the wife of 20 yrs. and the most weakest of personalities. She was portrayed as not being unable to handle the most innoxiously of situations without popping numb altering drugs as she had a meltdown, whilst was brow beaten by her Cheating Husband, her overbearing Sister and now her Billing crazed Lawyer. Is Stella’s character as far as we have come in the 21st century. I’m so tired of reading these type of meek weak women, set an example and write a strong backboned Woman in your next novel and I might buy it. All in all it was a disappointing read.
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