City of the Mind

Lively, Penelope

  13 Reviews

Matthew Holland shares in the upbringing of his eight-year-old daughter. As an architect, his work takes him over the ever-changing cityscape of London with all the diversity and evidence of past history - the city's and his own. But Matthew is also busy forging new beginnings: for London's Docklands, and for himself. [Larger font]

Comments from Groups

Penelope Lively is always a good read. We all enjoyed the running thread of London's architecture and history especially as a lot of the areas described have been redeveloped since the book was written. Auckland 020

An excellent well-crafted and beautifully written book. Martinborough 001

Group divided on this book. Some really liked it and loved descriptions of London, of the child and her relationship with her father. Others disliked it, didn't finish it, thought it lacked plot and didn't enjoy the openess of it. Ashburton 003

We all enjoyed the book and found plenty of scope for discussion. Milton 002

The group really responded to this book. It's a literary text, and takes a little work at the beginning to get into, but then the links between the parts start to become clear. Hamilton 029



Book enjoyed although quite complex writing. Thought-provoking.
CHCH 292
Very descriptive, but most of us found it hard to find the story within the book! Some didn't complete it and found it "boring". It felt like the author was almost trying too hard to weave a story between the different themes and characters.
AUCK 016
This book provoked a very lively discussion - some loved it with all the detailed descriptions of London, others disliked the same descriptions, too over-the-top', 'purple prose'. Two of the group found the story boring, others liked the relationship between the father and the child.
CHCH 099
All of the group really enjoyed/loved this book. Good to read after Pepys - similar minute geographical detail/decriptions of city, but different area. Needed to be read slowly though as very detailed and 'intense'. Not the sort of book you can dash through. Most wanted to read again. Characters well developed and engaging, "lovely people". Wonderful eulogy to the city of London...
Mixed reaction; some found the style a bit laboured, others really enjoyed the parallel London stories.
AUCK 171
Variable reactions, from intriguing and clever to confusing and frustrating. Like being in someone else's headspace, moving from one thought to another without any clarification. Characters could have been developed more. Some people felt that they just "didn't get it" ( the point of the story).
UPHU 001
A very lively discussion. All but one of our members 'knew' London, so most of us knew the areas being written about. We felt we had to work very hard to understand and appreciate this many layered book, as the focus moved restlessly from the past to the present, - like London itself! It was an eclectic, crowded and many layered read. Excellent and helpful notes.
Generally well liked!
The group had a universally positive response to this satisfying novel. Those of us who have lived in London were filled with nostalgia.
NELS 062
One of the rare books where everyone is in agreement - an extremely enjoyable read. The quality of the writing is superb! Penelope Lively's use of language is second to none. This is our best book for this year.
AUCK 271
An atmospheric story but too many threads to follow. It seemed to irritate most of our group, even though we admire Penelope Lively's work.
CHCH 392
Stimulated much discussion.
A mixed reaction - some found it a difficult (slow start) read, while others loved the images of London from different times, especially those of us who had lived there. Clever writing that interwove layers of story. Very English. A gentle read.