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Road to Lichfield Hardcover – Sep 9 1986


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chivers Large print (Chivers, Windsor, Paragon & C; Large Print edition edition (Sept. 9 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074517017X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745170176
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Format: Paperback
This was the first novel by Penelope Lively that I read, and it sent me in search of her other works. She is much better known for her novels and stories contered on her years in Egypt, but this early novel should not be neglected. The story is told mostly from the viewpoint of the main character, a married woman coping with the final illness of her father. The action of the story is presented subtly; we are shown what is happening through dialogue and thoughts, and must draw our conclusions about motivation and reactions. Like English rainy weather it's beautiful, a little sad, and blurry around the edges; the author doesn't spell things out for us. Highly recommended.
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By D. Madsen on Feb. 16 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Road to Lichfield" is similar to Penelope Lively's other books in that it is a well-written, acutely observed portrait of intelligent, interesting characters. As a narrative device she listens in on or recreates snippets of the consciousness of various characters. The effect of this device for me is that the characters seem utterly real. In this particular story, the main character, Anne, middle-aged, married to a priggish and uncommunicative but solid and responsible solicitor, finds her ideas about herself and her family all suddenly called into question when she learns new information about her dying father and when she falls in love with a new acquaintance. Add Anne's involvement with a project to save a decaying but historic old building from demolition, and Anne has plenty of material for exploration of her ideas about the past.
The author is a historian, apparently with an interest in old buildings. I enjoyed the descriptions of the British countryside and life style, and some minor characters were delightful.
This book is extremely well written but you won't like it if you don't like novels where the main focus is on social relationships.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book Feb. 16 2000
By D. Madsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Road to Lichfield" is similar to Penelope Lively's other books in that it is a well-written, acutely observed portrait of intelligent, interesting characters. As a narrative device she listens in on or recreates snippets of the consciousness of various characters. The effect of this device for me is that the characters seem utterly real. In this particular story, the main character, Anne, middle-aged, married to a priggish and uncommunicative but solid and responsible solicitor, finds her ideas about herself and her family all suddenly called into question when she learns new information about her dying father and when she falls in love with a new acquaintance. Add Anne's involvement with a project to save a decaying but historic old building from demolition, and Anne has plenty of material for exploration of her ideas about the past.
The author is a historian, apparently with an interest in old buildings. I enjoyed the descriptions of the British countryside and life style, and some minor characters were delightful.
This book is extremely well written but you won't like it if you don't like novels where the main focus is on social relationships.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Unusual, compelling, & politically incorrect. July 28 2005
By J. B. Dunn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read a lot, and can often anticipate the course a plot will take. Not this time. The central characters in this book all surprised me at important junctures, though the choices they made did not interfere with the logic of their characters. Partly for this reason, the book itself becomes very suspenseful, in defiance of its setting. It ends on a note that is both shocking and, at least to me, highly disturbing, though not sensational.

I expected to enjoy it, but did not foresee how caught up I would become. The characters still haunt me a bit. This is not your typical first novel, and not your typical genteel British lady novelist. She is ruthless. She is not politically correct.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Positive Aspects of Change July 21 2004
By prisrob - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Anne Linton drove northward toward Lichfield. Berkshire gave way to Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire to Warwickshire and on to Stratfordshire. Her own past, too, waved a cheery hand from over the horizon." So, the beginning of the first book by Penelope Lively. I have grown to love this writer. She provides intelligence, perception and a thoroughly believable and interesting cast of characters. She breathes life into the characters, and her vivid style increases our enjoyment of her novels.

Anne Linton is a history teacher married to a stodgy, unemotional barrister. Her husband is caught up in his career and seems to take Anne for granted. Anne is caught in the middle of her life as mother to two teenagers, teacher, wife and now daughter of a man who is dying. Anne begins the fortnight drives to Lichfield to visit her father in a nursing home and to organize the house that they had lived in. The house is actually kept quite clean by the housekeeper. It is Anne's job to look at the finances and to clean out all the morass of years of things.

Within the years collected in papers, Anne discovers that fifteen pounds a month are being sent to an unknown woman. She mentions this to her brother, Graham, who tells her that yes; her father had a mistress for many years and this may be where the money goes. Anne is astounded; this information has changed her entire perception of her life.

While Anne is visiting her father a neighbor drops by. He is a headmaster of a school, and a little older than Anne. He tells her that he and her father used to go fishing regularly and formed a great friendship. Anne and David form a friendship of their own, and she meets him whenever she comes to Lichfield. The friendship deepens into something else. A startling contrast to her father? How will she resolve this affair with her present life?

At the same time, Anne is involved with several other townspeople in trying to save an old building from being torn down. She finds them much too aggressive and dashing forward without the information they need to proceed with intelligence. She tries to tell the group her views, but they hush her and move forward. She withdraws from this group, feeling slighted and out of sorts. Her family's importance to her becomes significant. Her visits to her father renew her energy with her family and her ties to her old life. She visits the daughter of the woman who loved her father. She found surprisingly enough that he father loved music and dance. He was a different person with different needs in this household; She also found that this family loved her father. How to reconcile this family she does not know and the father she thought she knew dying in his bed?

Penelope Lively has given us a refreshing validation of the positive aspects of change. This novel is a testament of confidence in human nature. We are all good people trying to do our best in this world. Another great novel about finding ourselves, change and consequence, and the generations and future we never anticipated. prisrob
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Deeply satisfying novel Nov. 26 2004
By Luke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Road to Lichfield, Penelope's Lively's first novel, is a deeply satisfying read. Anne Linton, a housewife and part-time history teacher, goes to Lichfield to visit her senility-inflicted father who is dying in a nursing home. The frequent trips down become a sojourn into the past, into discovering her father and into exploring her growing illicit relationship with a headmaster, David Fielding, who was her father's fishing partner. Lively's Booker-nominated book is an adult, intelligent, articulate novel about how relationships and history shape our past and future. At 216 pages, it paints a vivid, if concise, picture of middle-class British suburban life with full of probable, living characters.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
From Very Long Ago Feb. 12 2012
By Constant Weeder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was published in 1977, before the Thatcher Era, before the tidal wave of immigration into the U.K., and before the computer age. It is about history and secret love, written in the stiff-upper-lip tradition of the British of that time. It's a lovely read, looking back from our day, and it must have been a lovely read when it first appeared. The story includes an episode relating to an effort to save an historic building, covers the decline in the teaching of history (pretty much totally abandoned now), and describes the final illness of a very old man in hospital. Yet the writing is lively (pun intended) and aware, and very much reminds the reader of what is missing in our own environment--the colors of flowers seen from freeways, small town meetings, the attempts of everyone to get along, to tolerate, to find areas of agreement. I was inspired by this book to go back in memory more than the 35 years separating the novel from our own time, and to review my own early years. A great find.

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