The game of consequences requires that each player write a few lines following a simple direction, then fold the sheet over before the next person responds to a new direction on that same paper, and so on. The result is a story, usually with surprising consequences. And so begins the story of Lorna and Matt, a pair from very different backgrounds: They met on a bench in St. James's Park; it was the sixth of June 1935. Lorna was crying because she had had a violent argument with her mother; Matt was feeding the wildfowl in order to draw them. By afternoon's end, life has changed: Matt knew only that he must see her again, and forever. Their forever is gloriously spent in a rich corner of West Somerset, making a dilapidated farmhouse into home. It's a fairy tale that includes tough conditions in winter, the house showed its claws and hard work sheltered city girl Lorna learns to do housework and, soon, how to tend a baby, Molly. But the couple's happiness is interrupted by World War II. When Matt's letters arrived, they were already several weeks old. Lorna read of yesterday, and wondered about today. And she too wrote into the future; it was as though they existed now in different dimensions of time. A keen perception of the meanings of time and space joins the three generations of women (Molly's daughter Ruth, who makes wonderful observations about the relation between them, is the third) as much as their shared blood does; it also allows author Penelope Lively to observe the worlds of change that occur during their lifetimes. She remains a heartbreakingly human and elegant writer.
Choices are another theme those we make, those that seem simply to occur. Middle-aged Molly realizes she has never been in love. How did this come about? Oh, you made choices, but in a way that was sometimes almost subliminal. . . . And, sometimes, choice is not an option. But you, reader, have a choice. Joanne Collings writes from Washington, D.C.