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Heat Wave (Penguin Modern Classics)
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 October 2011
This extraordinarily good novel by the Booker Prize Winner, Penelope Lively, centres on Pauline, a divorced freelance editor in her fifties; it is early May and the beginning of a blisteringly hot summer. Pauline is spending the summer at her cottage, World's End, and the adjoining cottage is being occupied by her daughter, Teresa, her son-in-law, Maurice and their toddler son, Luke. Whilst Maurice writes a book about the British tourist trade, Pauline edits a book about romantic love and watches as the relationship between her daughter and Maurice slowly unravels.

Pauline's concern is aroused when Maurice invites his friend, James, and James' girlfriend, Carol, to the cottage to help with his book. Pauline sees that Maurice is sexually attracted to Carol and, knowing her daughter is deeply in love with her husband, she anticipates the unhappiness that is in store for Teresa. As Pauline watches Maurice becoming more attracted to Carol, she finds she cannot avoid re-living the years she spent with Teresa's father, Harry, despite his constant infidelities, and the feelings of intense jealousy and isolation Pauline felt then, threaten to spill over into the present time. As the sun gets hotter, the roads dustier and the wheat in the fields grows higher, the intensity of emotions increase until a climax is reached and a tragedy occurs.

This is an intelligent, compassionate and beautifully written novel which centres on love, the death of love and the vagaries of the human heart.

4.5 Stars.

Please note that this book was first published in 1996 in hardback and in 1997 in paperback.

Also recommended by the same author: Moon Tiger (Penguin Modern Classics);According to Mark (Penguin Modern Classics) and How It All Began
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2012
Lively manages to create the sultry hot atmosphere of a heatwave against which she sets the heat of the rising emotions in this book..both creep up on the characters and on the reader. Slowly she paints the picture of her main characters life and as in real life it is full of subplots and quirky friendships and characters and imperfections and a desperation and helplessness as she watches her daughter fall into traps that remind her of her own past, knowing that as a parent she can just be there and watch and wait but say nothing as the plot unfolds. The ending surprises which makes the book even better, I audibly gasped. But it was still believable and the surprise was I felt as true to life as the rest of the book. A sufficiently good read that I immediately downloaded two more Lively books that I hadn't read to my Kindle!
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Read enough Penelope Lively books and you realise that, like most writers, Lively essentially explores the same themes again and again, offering new and different insights with each new title. Heat Wave explores the interwoven connections between past and present, then and now, as old wounds resurface for central character Pauline as she spends a boiling summer watching her daughter's marriage unravel, reminding her in turn of past events and decisions taken.

It's a beautifully observed story, as you'd expect from Lively, with carefully crafted observations about deceptions on many different levels. On the one hand, there is the deception of the location - the country is in fact an industrial landscape as Lively sees it, and the changing nature of the ripening season over summer is wonderfully evoked. Then, there is the deception of self and others, with Lively offering insights into the frailities of the male, and the infidelities suffered by Pauline and possibly her daughter Theresa as the brooding, tense atmosphere of the story unfolds.

It's a rivetting read, but as another reviewer has said, the ending is perhaps a little weak, and that's partly down to the brilliant atmosphere that Lively has built up along the way; hard to know how else she could have wrapped this one up in a more satisfactory way to he honest. Lively's excavation of lives lived, and the powerful influence that the past and old decisions have on the present is forensic, disturbing and compelling. One of her very finest books.
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on 6 September 2014
As always with Penelope Lively, there is a growing sense of menace as the characters develop. Here is a feminine writer trying to build a new rural world about her: but how to be self-contained without being isolated and despised ?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2013
As a Lively fan I looked forward to reading her latest- and am disappointed. For once, the sparse prose irritated a little- lots of very short simple sentences. I didn't really warm to the characters- not sure why but none seemed terribly realistic. Pauline seemed "old" for a modern day 55 year old, Harry never came to life, Hugh was a bit of a stereotype ,Teresa just seemed "wet" and Maurice lacked colour. James and Carol come over as nonentities really except for their role in the plot.

I wanted to shake the characters into action instead of reading yet another page of "meaningful glances" and heavy silences between them all. I thought the symbolism was a tad heavy handed- gathering storms and heat coinciding with the increasing tension between the family. A bit Hardy-esque but not terribly original. Without giving away the ending let me say that I felt cheated. The novel ends abruptly after teasing us for chapters, and I thought the ending was a cop-out. The juxtapostioning of Pauline's marriage and her daughter's is interesting but I found their behaviour wooden and hard to believe in. Not my favourite Lively by any means and not one I'd wholeheartedly recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2013
Non stop psychological tension. Great insight into the inner world and external reality echoing the main protagnotists impressions.

Clever as you could feel the coldness of the main character and therefore her limitations; chilling.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2014
Great characters - as always with Penelope Lively. She really digs down into the heart of a being. Enjoyed it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2013
I really like her way with words, she describes emotions about eg motherhood that are spot on. Her descriptions of the different types of people are also very good. I just thought that this particular plot was too bland, it didn't really go anywhere. It was more like a french film in its content.
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