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Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir | [Penelope Lively]

Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir

Memory and history have been Penelope Lively’s terrain in fiction over a career that has spanned five decades. But she has only rarely given listeners a glimpse into her influences and formative years. Dancing Fish and Ammonites traces the arc of Lively’s life, stretching from her early childhood in Cairo to boarding school in England to the sweeping social changes of Britain’s 20th century. She reflects on her early love of archeology, the fragments of the ancients that have accompanied her journey - including a sherd of Egyptian ceramic depicting dancing fish and ammonites found years ago on a Dorset beach.
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Publisher's Summary

The beloved and best-selling author takes an intimate look back at a life of reading and writing.

"The memory that we live with...is the moth-eaten version of our own past that each of us carries around, depends on. It is our ID; this is how we know who we are and where we have been."

Memory and history have been Penelope Lively’s terrain in fiction over a career that has spanned five decades. But she has only rarely given listeners a glimpse into her influences and formative years.

Dancing Fish and Ammonites traces the arc of Lively’s life, stretching from her early childhood in Cairo to boarding school in England to the sweeping social changes of Britain’s 20th century. She reflects on her early love of archeology, the fragments of the ancients that have accompanied her journey - including a sherd of Egyptian ceramic depicting dancing fish and ammonites found years ago on a Dorset beach. She also writes insightfully about aging and what life looks like from where she now stands.

©2013 Penelope Lively (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Narrator Kelly Birch's crisp British tones are an excellent match for Penelope Lively's direct writing style. This is not an emotional memoir but a more aloof reminiscence on certain themes. Lively wryly muses on the aches and pains of old age, is grateful for the joys of reading, and charms with her account of her most precious possessions, including the dancing fish and ammonites of the title. Birch effectively delivers all that. Lively comments that she can still remember her French even though she hasn't needed it in years, and Birch successfully manages that chatty prose." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.0 (12 )
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3.3 (10 )
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Story
3.1 (11 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 05-04-14
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 05-04-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    21
    15
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    0
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    "Inside Penelope's head at eighty"

    Some of the musing fail to resonate, but it's fascinating to be able to see the world from her point of view. I especially enjoyed her recollections of the disruption to her life from WWII. We think of war in grand terms, but this brings it to a very personal level.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sophie LARCHMONT, NY, United States 03-18-14
    Sophie LARCHMONT, NY, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
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    "Great book, terrible narrator"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Dancing Fish and Ammonites to be better than the print version?

    I can't compare the two as I haven't read the print version, but the language of the book is quite exceptional. The trouble is I can't "enjoy" the book because I truly dislike the narrator's voice, her flow, the intonation of her voice, the cadence. I really don't like listening to her and it takes away from the author's beautiful message.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Dancing Fish and Ammonites?

    I'm still listening to it, but the soft humanity of life, living, and death. What it means to grow old -- how one doesn't envy youth or crave to live longer -- but how to live life elegantly as an older person and enjoy the peace and wisdom one gains throughout life. Finally, in age, one is able to know ones self and exercise the honesty in which a life well lived can softly take it's rest.


    What didn’t you like about Kelly Birch’s performance?

    I can't explain it, but her voice is not relaxing or welcoming. This book should be read in the voice of someone who is older, wiser, deeper. It is a book written by an older woman and therefore an older person should have narrated. I truly dislike listening to Ms. Birch read this book, but all is made up for in Penelope Lively's excellent and beautiful writing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I listen to it in the car and so I knew I would listen to it at different times and in chunks of one hour or so.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend getting a new narrator. I hate saying this about Kelly Birch, but she's just not the right person for this book. Her voice is abrasive and takes away from really enjoying the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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