Friday, November 04, 2011
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Under the Tasman Bridge, and not a troll in sight! Under the Tasman Bridge, western shore. October 2011.
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively is in many respects a conventional sad, romantic tale you may find familiar. However, in terms of construction, craft and style; this is a decidedly original book.
Lively has constructed a shifting, jagged narrative that is a thing of beauty. Shifting tenses almost every other page, the book also frequently alternates narrative voices and chronology. Although this might sound confusing, it works wonderfully well.
Thus, there are many occasions within the book where we get multiple presentations of the same event from different viewpoints. Those passages in the present tense are narrated in the third person, though the central character – the elderly and dying Claudia – is always present.
From here though the novel shifts backwards and forwards through time, reconstructing Claudia’s life from both her memory and standpoint, but also those of the significant people in here life. This technique allows Lively to create a character in three dimensions and a complexity that one rarely sees in literature.
In Claudia, we have the ultimate in flawed, but realisticly beloved character. That is the true mastery of the work. Very highly recommended!