City of the Mind is the second novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively.
'This is the city in which everything is simultaneous. There is no yesterday, nor tomorrow, merely weather, and decay, and construction.'
In London's changing heartland, architect Matthew Halland is aware of how the past and the present blend. It stirs memories of his boyhood, the early years of his daughter Jane and the failed marriage that he has almost put behind him. Here too is the London of prehistory, of Georgian elegance, of the Blitz. But Matthew is occupied with constructing a new future for London in Docklands, and with it he begins to forge new beginnings of his own.
'A glorious novel' Observer
'The descriptions of the London Blitz are achingly real' Sunday Telegraph
Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Next to Nature, Art; Perfect Happiness; Passing On; City of the Mind; Cleopatra's Sister; Heat Wave; Beyond the Blue Mountains, a collection of short stories; Oleander, Jacaranda, a memoir of her childhood days in Egypt; Spiderweb; her autobiographical work, A House Unlocked; The Photograph; Making It Up; Consequences; Family Album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and How It All Began. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours List, and DBE in 2012. Penelope Lively lives in London.
In the title of Booker Prize winner Lively's ( Moon Tiger ) intelligent, elegantly expressed and deeply satisfying new novel, the city is London and the mind that of architect Matthew Halland, whose keen eye and sentient imagination bring him to muse about its inhabitants over the centuries. Recently divorced and missing the daily companionship of his young daughter, Halland attempts to fill the dry hole in his life with work--notably a building his firm is erecting in the newly restored Docklands area. The people with whom he comes in contact typify a range of urban behavior and moral conduct. After he turns down an offer from an obnoxious, evil developer, Halland is plagued by the man's ruthless harrassment. But a glass engraver (and Holocaust survivor) demonstrates the power of art to transcend mundane reality. And an editor of an art magazine, Sarah Bridges, to whom Halland tentatively reaches out, slowly restores his faith in love and human relationships. Interspersed throughout are flashes of the people who lived in the areas of London that Halland traverses: an Elizabethan arctic explorer, a Victorian paleontologist, a child of the teeming slums ironically named Rose and a WW II air-raid warden who faces unspeakable tragedy. The narrative becomes a meditation on time: historical time, time as perceived by children, as altered by crisis, or love, or memory. In chronicling Halland's passage from desolation to re-engagement, Lively affirms that our existences have meaning, even as we are succeeded by others in the dance of life.