The Road to Lichfield is the Booker Prize shortlisted first novel by Penelope Lively, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time on the 40th anniversary of its publication.
Ann Linton leaves her family in Berkshire and sets up camp in her father's house when he is taken into a nursing home in distant Lichfield. As she shares his last weeks she meets David Fielding, and the love they share brings her feelings into sharp focus. Deeply felt, beautifully controlled, The Road to Lichfield is a subtle exploration of memory and identity, of chance and consequence, of the intricate weave of generations across a past never fully known, and a future never fully anticipated.
'A searing study of the peculiar state of being in love . . . there are few contemporary novelists to match her on this subject' Sunday Telegraph
But she remains defiant to the last, telling her nurses that she will write a 'history of the world . . . and in the process, my own'. And it is her story from a childhood just after the First World War through the Second and beyond. But Claudia's life is entwined with others and she must allow those who knew her, loved her, the chance to speak, to put across their point of view. There is Gordon, brother and adversary; Jasper, her untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool conventional daughter; and then there is Tom, her one great love, found and lost in wartime Egypt.
'Leaves its traces in the air long after you've put it away' Anne Tyler
'A complex tapestry of great subtlety. Lively writes so well, savouring the words as she goes' Daily Telegraph
'Very clever: evocative, thought-provoking and hangs on the mind long after it is finished' Literary Review
Anita Brookner's first novel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time.
'Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.'
Ruth Weiss, an academic, is beautiful, intelligent and lonely. Studying the heroines of Balzac in order to discover where her own childhood and adult life has gone awry, she seeks not salvation but enlightenment.
Yet in revisiting her London upbringing, her friendships and doomed Parisian love affairs, she wonders if perhaps there might not be a chance for a new start in life . . .