How It All Began (Platinum Readers Circle (Center Point)) (Large Print / Hardcover)

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One beautiful spring day in London, Charlotte, an elderly retired English teacher, is mugged and breaks her hip. This event ricochets off the lives of seven other characters in her orbit, unsettling and rearranging them.


While Charlotte convalesces with her likable daughter Rose, and her son-in-law Gerry, she takes the measure of her infirmity. She imagines herself "on the edge of things, clinging on to life's outer rim." Her mischievous insights punctuate the narrative.


Charlotte loves books, her "necessary fix". She tutors an adult literacy student, Anton, a recent immigrant, whose introduction to her daughter's household has unintended consequences. Other repercussions from the mugging are a humiliating public speech, a blossoming friendship, a swindle, and a broken marriage. Lively is fond of her characters, and exposes their foibles with a gentle hand. Juggling these separate streams of story, she creates vivid, memorable characters. I avidly read "How It All Began" to see how it all would end for them.

— Pat


A vibrant new novel from Penelope Lively-a 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781611733082
ISBN-10: 1611733081
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Center Point
Publication Date: February 1st, 2012
Pages: 350
Language: English
Series: Platinum Readers Circle (Center Point)