Monday, February 13, 2006


Making It Up, Penelope Lively, Penguin Group, Inc, 2005, 215 pp

I had read a couple good reviews of this book and had always wanted to read something by Penelope Lively. The book is an odd form of memoir/fiction. Timely, considering all the noise about memoirs vs fiction lately, but she admits to what she is doing. She looks back over her life and makes up stories of what might have been, had her life taken different paths. It is a fascinating idea but the results in this case are uneven .

I liked the first story the best. In fact, it was so gripping and well-written and emotionally satisfying that I kept reading, waiting for more of the same which never came. The rest of the book was a long slump, ranging from boring to mildly interesting. The final to last, "Number Twelve Sheep Street", was again good because it concerned books and a bookseller.

Her writing is smooth, the sentences are noble, but the style is more like an essay than like storytelling. The value in reading it, for me, was in studying the memoir form.


  1. Fascinating concept. Since I'm convinced that I've made way too many wrong turns at life's crossroads, I always wished I could have an overhead view of the map I've followed. I want some way to see where I went wrong and what could have been.

  2. I know what you mean. I think that is why I am writing my book. Life is so full of other people, views, changes, social and spiritual happenings. So far in looking back, every wrong turn I made was "right" for me at the time. Funny, huh?