The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories
Penelope Lively has an enviable international reputation for bringing the human condition into focus in a way that’s particularly British.
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“Readers of contemporary fiction will be sure to enjoy . . .”
Our foibles, heartaches, and triumphs small and large are captured with elegance and generous wisdom in her writing. The Purple Swamp Hen is the first short story collection of Lively’s to be published for decades, and it’s well worth the wait.
In its pages we meet the eponymous swamp hen with a wry take on the Roman citizens of Pompeii as they teeter on the verge of destruction. The unnatural makes an eerie appearance in The Weekend and DIY. Abroad features a young Bohemian couple discovering life among the peasantry can be hard indeed. A young woman meets an aging spy and her world view changes as a consequence, leading her to question her career choice. In The Third Wife, a callous, cheating husband gets his comeuppance as an elegant plan of revenge unfolds.
The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories is a delightful read, yet one that carries the sense of a sharp knowing twinkle in the writer’s eye as she sets our funny little ways down on the page. Readers of contemporary fiction will be sure to enjoy this compilation.
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Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews