How It All Began

How It All Began
by Penelope Lively
2011 / 288 pages
Rating:  8

(I finished this in July.)

I think this is about the interrelatedness of things and other issues, especially language. “It’s about accidents.” (page 121) Or “circumstance” as Henry notes later. (161)

It’s about chaos theory or the butterfly effect where when any one thing happens it affects a bunch of other things.  In this case,  Charlotte,  the 80-year old protagonist,  is mugged which means that her daughter has to stay home from work … etc

And there are immigrants in the story as there would be in almost any story about contemporary London.  They are from Poland and Eritrea anf somewhere else (Anton?)

Charlotte and Henry are definitely elderly, Rose, Marion, Jermy middle aged.

When Henry is taping his show he is motrified by the hesitations.


“Types”-  “A Da Vinci Code” type. Business women. Types as seen by Charlotte or by Rose and Marion. Jeffrey seems a “type.” Henry may be one. The Eritean mini-cab driver certainly isn’t. Anton isn’t.

I’m very interested in the literary aspects, the themes of language, words, from how the real world uses them to how Lively is using them in her narrative.

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