Paperbacks;Childrens' books

10th September 1999 at 01:00
THE HOUSE IN NORHAM GARDENS. By Penelope Lively. Mammoth pound;4.50.

After an interval of 25 years, this novel is even better than I remembered. Lively doesn't adopt a special voice for children: it's the same civilised, spellbinding voice that we know from her adult books. She is interested in the past, memory, history and place, and how they interweave.

Clare lives in North Oxford with two of the most delightful aunts in all literature. The story is about how she situates herself in her family and comes to understand many things.

A writer submitting such a book today would be told that the language was too sophisticated, and the plot not whizzy enough, so all credit to Mammoth for reprinting a work which is a model of excellence and shows what a children's book is capable of being.

Other Penelope Lively titles reissued are: Fanny and the Monsters, The Driftway and The Voyage of QV66.

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