This is a collection of short stories.
"Inspired . . . entertaining . . . an abundantly rich collection . . . Penelope Lively writes beautifully with meticulous detachment."-The New York Times Book Review
"The extraordinary power of Lively's writing is such that these small intrusions upon small lives take on a nearly surreal clarity and sense of horror. . . . Nearly every tale is flawless; nearly every one depends upon some sly or uncanny revelation."-The Washington Post Book World
"The precise image, the unexpected detail, compassion without sentimentality, are only a few of the elements that make these stories a celebration of narrative art."-Publishers Weekly
"These witty, profoundly civilized stories display Lively's compassion, intelligence, and versatility. . . . This captivatingly intelligent collection confirms Lively's place as one of Britain's most imaginative and important contemporary writers."-Library Journal
"Pack of Cards confirms her as the most original and piercing writer now working in that most unsparing of genres [short stories]. . . . She leaves her characters sustaining each other precariously, connected by familiarity, if not emotion. However wicked her insight into pretension, her compassion always rules. These vignettes of the human condition and of very human responses to it are absorbing, caring, and careful."-The Times (London)
Penelope Lively was born in Cairo in 1933 and spent her childhood there. She holds a degree in modern history from Oxford University and is the author of eleven acclaimed novels, including According to Mark, Judgement Day, Perfect Happiness, Passing On, The Road to Lichfield, and the Booker Prize winner, Moon Tiger. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Lively is especially adept at illustrating how a person comes to change (change one's mind, change one's attitude, fall out of love, grow up, et cetera). Lucky for the reader, many if not all of these stories work with the theme of how a person does change. Again and again, we see that she is remarkably good at constructing the feelings and thoughts of adolescents, and this reviewer suspects it is partly because Lively has indelible memories of her own amazing childhood; read also her Oleander, Jacaranda autobiographical work, hinted at in the marvelous short story about an English girl returning from a childhood in colonial India.
Lively is purely talented as a wordsmith, with amazing economy and clever, rather elegantly composed dialogue. The book is excellent from start to finish.