consequences penelope lively

Lorna escapes her conventional Kensington family to marry an artist, Matt. They settle in a small cottage in Somerset, where their daughter Molly is born. But World War II puts an end to their immense happiness. Molly will have to wait longer to find love as she gamely grapples with work and sex in 1960s London, while Ruth, Lorna’s granddaughter, has to wait longer still.

An enthralling examination of interweaving love and history, Consequences pinpoints the moments when three women in very different times find love.

We had a large turn out this month so our discussion turned out to be quite ‘lively’ (pun intended!). And although our scores were not far stretching (6-8), the overall perception of the story and Lively’s style was broad.

Most of us agreed the writing was clever and well structured with beautiful language that satisfied even the most dedicated logophile amongst us. Some loved the gentleness of the story and its characters with a predictability that they found comforting. Then again, there were those who found these exact traits annoying and felt the author needed to delve further into the historical setting and social changes of the time.

It was suggested that the characters, although likeable enough, were merely sketched and not drawn. We decided this particular aspect of the writing is exactly what kept the book’s pace going forward. Many of the characters’ inner workings were left for the reader to form themselves and the many family dynamics experienced through the generations were well done, without hysterics. Something a good percentage of our group appreciated.

Everyone found the artist, Matt and his wood-carving interesting and felt the author had done her research well here. In true Viti style, she suggested the wood-carving and its distinct lines could be a representation of the story line itself … as an outline with the details to be imagined by the appreciator of the art, and as such, the reader.

The title was also discussed, concluding that each generation was to live with the consequences of those before them. Overall, it was decided that as a woman’s book Consequences told a subtle and thoughtful story of familial relationships through the generations, with skilfully constructed characters and a storyline aimed to please, if not the hard-core reader, somewhere in the middle of enjoyable contemplation.