'Rich and unusual, a book to treasure. Few recent gardening books come anywhere close to its style, intelligence and depth. Moves between Lively's own horticultural life and a broad history of gardening' Observer
'Wonderful. A manifesto of horticultural delight' Literary Review
'Beautiful. Perfect for literary garden lovers' Good Housekeeping
'Exquisite and original' Daily Telegraph
'Enchanting. Reading this book is like walking with a wise, humorous guide through a series of garden rooms . . . and finding that vistas suddenly open out, on to history, fashion, politics, reflections on time and the taming of nature' Tablet
'A perfect bedside book. In part it's a memoir of the gardens in Lively's life, starting with the exotic Egyptian garden of her childhood and continuing up to her small present-day garden in a north London square' Sunday Express
'A gentle survey of the garden's place in Western culture, which morphs into a personal meditation on time, memory and a life well lived' i
'Scholarly bedtime reading' The Times, Books of the Year
No.40 Norham Gardens, Oxford, is the home of Clare Mayfield, her two aged aunts and two lodgers. The house is a huge Victorian monstrosity, with rooms all full of old furniture, old papers, old clothes, memorabilia - it is like a living museum.
Clare discovers in a junk room the vividly painted shield which her great-grandfather, an eminent anthropologist, had brought back from New Guinea. She becomes obsessed with its past and determined to find out more about its strange tribal origins.
Dreams begin to haunt her - dreams of another country, another culture, another time, and of shadowy people whom she feels are watching her. Who are they, and what do they want?
Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt and spent her childhood there. She came to England at the age of twelve, in 1945, and went to boarding school in Sussex. She went on to read Modern History at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1957 she married Jack Lively (who died in 1998). They had two children, Josephine and Adam. Jack Lively's academic career took the family from Swansea to Sussex and Oxford, and eventually to Warwick University, where he was Professor of Politics. Penelope Lively now has six grandchildren and lives in London.