Thursday 14 July 2016

Ammonites and Leaping Fish by Penelope Lively

This is a memoir about ageing from one of the UK's best loved novelists. In this book, Penelope Lively muses on the ageing process, memory, the importance of reading and the historical times she has lived through. She also takes six objects from her home and uses them to muse on topics that mean a lot to her.

It's this last section, that for the purposes of this blog, I found most interesting. The first item she chooses is a pair of duck kettle holders that she bought in Maine. She uses them as a starting point to muse about her birdwatching experiences - she claims to not be a particularly competent birdwatcher, but she seems to know far more than the average person in the street! She also briefly muses about what is it that attracts so many people to birds.

Next she looks at a rock she has that contains two ammonites. From this she thinks about the wealth of prehistoric life and the human need to name and categorise things:

"The world and its life are the abiding delight and fascination, and to savour them to the full you want to have things labelled, named, classified: a tree is not just a tree, it is a particular tree or you are only enjoying it as an agreeable sight."

This an excellent, insightful (though sometimes rambling) meditation on ageing and what life means as you grow older. Well worth reading.

Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time by Penelope Lively published by Penguin


bunnits said...

Thanks. Sounds interesting. I'll have to look for it.

Jenn Jilks said...

It sounds interesting!!!!

RG said...

It does sound interesting and goes on the "list"!

Bill said...

Thanks for this. I enjoyed her novel "How It All Began".