❮Read❯ ➮ Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived ➲ Author Penelope Lively – Transportjobsite.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 133 pages
  • Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived
  • Penelope Lively
  • English
  • 05 September 2017
  • 9780060926229

10 thoughts on “Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived

  1. says:

    4.5 starsThis slim volume, containing so much, is an eloquent memoir and meditation on childhood perception and memory Born of English parents and raised in Egypt until she was 12 , Lively recounts experiences of perceiving the world differently from adults and how those differences are eventually negotiated While dreaming is not a focus of the book, one related dream is a vivid insight into how these childhood perceptions stay with us.An incident noted near the end, of reading letters she d written to her nanny after their separation in England , hit me hard, in light of what the author does and does not remember This is the first book I ve read by Lively and now I d like to read her Moon Tiger.


  2. says:

    Oleander, Jacaranda A Childhood Perceived captures memories of Penelope Lively s childhood in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s in snapshots so vivid that they alone would make this a fascinating book But what shoots it into a league of its own is her simultaneous exploration of the nature and development of childhood perception Lively refers to the anarchic vision of childhood anarchic because without preconceptions, unpredicatable, where adult societal and cultural codes are unknown The experience of childhood itself is irretrievable, all that remains is a headful of brilliant frozen moments She sets out to turn these frozen images into words, aiming both to look at the way in which a child sees and at how it matches up with what was seen She succeeds brilliantly, constantly thought provoking and challenging Because she grew up in the English community in Egypt, her images are set in Egypt, Palestine and the Sudan, placed she lived or visited with parents and her nanny governess, Lucy.She captures moments when she realizes now that she first became aware of the passing of time then and now, the dislocation of becoming aware of different viewpoints from your own customary egocentric viewpoint and that there is than one way of looking at the world Lucy was the prime conditioner of Penelope s world view I was the product of one society but was learning how to perceive the world in the ambience of a quite different culture I grew up English, in Egypt The question the adult author wants most to pursue is how do children arrive at an alternative interpretation of things and what happens to them on the way She follows the different textures of memory at different stages, such as the simple observations of a very young child a praying mantis in the garden, in bed with a stomach ache with the clack of Lucy s knitting needles in the background , and the slightly older surreal view of the black hole in Lucy s chest she now imagines inspired by the shadow between Lucy s breasts and the seaweed she glimpsed growing at the base of her father s torso when his bath towel slipped once At some point, she says, rationality kicks in and the black hole and the seaweed gave way to an awareness of and curiosity about sexuality , and speculates that some of the surreal nature of such images may continue into adulthood through dreams.As she gets older, she becomes aware of things outside the house and garden and the texture of her daily life The second World War is being fought in Libya, battles very close The house is full of officers, her mother leads an active social life, entertains freely They holiday at beaches Which ones Why The snapshots she has chosen to write about take us through her growing awareness of social codes in Egypt, cultural differences, and the changing relationships between her parents as they divorce Then there is the devastating shock of being sent to England to boarding school, to a world in which she was severed from Lucy, where she knew none of the codes of acceptability, on the outsidethe one who cannot quite interpret what is going on, who is forever tripping over their own ignorance or misinterpretation.I was a displaced person, of a kind, in the jargon of the day And displaced persons are displaced not just in space but in time they have been cut off from their own pastIf you cannot revisit your own origins reach out and touch them from time to time you are forever in some crucial sense untethered.I read Oleander, Jacaranda in between two readings of W.G Sebald s The Emigrants I hadn t expected to find such a reflection of Sebald s haunting theme here But here it is.


  3. says:

    4 stars, rounded up.An intriguing combination of memoir and reflection on memory Growing up English in Egypt in the late 1930 s and early 1940 s she returned to live in England in 1945 , Lively s memories offer something out of the ordinary in my reading, anyway thanks to their historical and social aspects, but I m sure she could make even an ordinary suburban childhood interesting The questions of how clearly we remember things from our childhoods, why we remember certain things, how those memories get jumbled and mixed, how later knowledge and events may affect memories, and so on are intertwined with her stories, which are placed in context with modest amounts of historical background The book offers an engaging invitation to readers to sift through the fragments of their own childhood memories and ponder how pieces fit together, how factual various memories might be, and how their adult selves see places, people, and events differently or not from the way they remember perceiving those things in childhood An enjoyable, thought provoking little book.


  4. says:

    This book was a gift to me many years ago by Bernadette For some reason it has languished on my shelves, been picked out from time to time and then returned unfinished Not this time This time I stuck with this relatively short memoir It repays the effort as do all of PL s books She is a master wordsmith and yet agin touches so accurately on a great range of emotions.It is a fragmented read at times, a bit like What Maisie Knew as we are viewing happenings through both a child s eye and an adult reinterpretation this may account for my initial difficulty or staying power.Thank you again Bernadette.


  5. says:

    This book is one of those unadulterated joys Penelope Lively shares her emotions, feelings, confusions and sensations on being a young child in a warm climate Egypt with free rein to explore and think and absorb impressions This is a memoire, of course, I had only read her exquisite fiction before, but this is a treasure to read.


  6. says:

    I have been wanting to read Penelope Lively s childhood memoir, Oleander, Jacaranda, for such a long time, and it was thus one of my first choices on my Around the World in 80 Books challenge list I have read and enjoyed several of Lively s novels in the past, and was keen to learn about the woman herself Where better to start than with her own memories of her childhood, lived in comfort in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s Almost every review on the Penguin paperback edition which I purchased spoke of how emotive Lively s memoir is The Washington Times writes She sees herself with clarity as both child and adult, a rare accomplishment indeed The Times believes her autobiography to be Unsentimental yet so vividly evocative that you can smell the dung, the jacaranda and the oleander It offers potent glimpses of British colonial life The result is a wise, colourful and touching tale In her modest preface, Lively writes My childhood is no or less interesting than anyone else s It has two particularities One is that I was a product of one society but was learning how to perceive the world in the ambience of a quite different culture I grew up English, in Egypt The other is that I was cared for by someone who was not my mother, and that it was a childhood which came to an abrupt and traumatic end Indeed, after living all of her early life in Egypt, and most of it just outside Cairo, Lively had to move to England after the Second World War, following the divorce of her parents to the young Penelope, they are peripheral figures for whom I felt an interested regard but no intense commitment Of course, her nurse, Lucy, who is variously described as the centre of my universe , is not part of her new life.Lively s aim in Oleander, Jacaranda was to recover something of the anarchic vision of childhood in so far as any of us can do such a thing and use this as the vehicle for a reflection on the way in which children perceive Whilst she recognises that her child and adult selves are linked in many ways, she is able to separate them for the purposes of her memoir She writes As, writing this, I think with equal wonder of that irretrievable child, and of the eerie relationship between her mind and mine She is myself, but a self which is unreachable except by means of such miraculously surviving moments of being the action within At the forefront of her exploration into childhood is the untrustworthy element of memory One of the problems with this assemblage of slides in the head is that they cannot be sorted chronologically All habits are geared towards the linear, the sequential, but memory refuses such orderliness With this constantly in her mind, Lively presents both her recollections, and the historical facts, of spending her formative years in such a turbulent and fascinating period, and a place so different from the England that she would later call home.The descriptions in Oleander, Jacaranda are sumptuous When talking of her daily routine, for example, she writes The daily walks with Lucy are merged now into one single acute recollection, in which the whole thing hangs suspended in vibrant detail the mimosa and the naked leaping children and the grey mud caked threatening spectres of the gamooses The pink and blue and lime green of children s clothes, the white of galabiyas, the black humps of squatting women Lively s observations of her young self feel both thorough and beautifully handled No thought at all here, just observation the young child s ability to focus entirely on the moment, to direct attention upon the here and now, without the intrusion of reflection or of anticipation It is also the Wordsworthian version of the physical world the splendour in the grass And, especially, Virginia Woolf s creation of the child s eye view A way of seeing that is almost lost in adult life Throughout Oleander, Jacaranda, Lively explores our capacities for recollection Her memoir is one which feels balanced and measured from its opening page There are few moments of drama, or melodrama things happen which make a great impression on Lively as a child, but the importance of the everyday shines through Lively s voice is charming and beguiling It is fascinating to see those moments where her childhood memories and adult eyes meet, particularly when Lively discusses her return to Egypt in the 1980s Oleander, Jacaranda is honest, warm, and intelligent Lively somehow manages to make a very specific period of her life feel timeless in her depictions, and in consequence, her memoir of childhood is a joy to read.


  7. says:

    This was not what I expected, although the subtitle should have tipped me off A Childhood Perceived Not as much about Egypt as I had hoped, but fascinating in other ways It is a exploration of her personal past clearly she has spent time, a lot of it, trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle How did those events shape her into the person she is today She slips into philosophical commentary, esp on the nature of childhood memories, quite frequently There is quite a lot of pain uncovered, but pleasures also It was not a page turner, but a quiet reflective read I might have had trouble hanging in there, except that I was reading it for a book group Others also found it a slow read, with interesting moments Description of countryside, the fact that she was raised by and attached to Lucy, but not really her parents, description of homeschooling, the loneliness of her childhood and the time and space it afforded for imaginatively acting out all the classic mythological stories, old Alexandria, trip to Khartoum But most of all, we found her re entry into England at age 12 fascinating She didn t understand the cultural cues at all and really struggled Also with the cold, wet weather It was not the nirvana she had been led to believe throughout her upbringing in Egypt.


  8. says:

    Oleander, jacaranda, oleander, jacaranda, oleander , a young Penelope murmuring to herself, peering out the window from the back seat of the car as the alternating trees whip past like so many telephone poles Reminds me of my young self, back seat riding, being ever on the lookout for Burma Shave signs Only I wasn t living in Egypt of the 1930s and 40s Oleander, Jacaranda is a pleasantly paced book, introspective, at times bewilderingly so, which is, most likely, just a difference of opinion.Early on, the book is only 133 pages enough of a taste of Penelope for me to order an old copy of Moon Tiger I encounter the best new word gamoose Otherwise known as the water buffalo A huge beast that terrified a very young Penelope Beware the gamoose We get a few pages of Penelope questioning, how exactly is childhood recalled Why do certain jpgs or brief gifs from our early years float to the top of our consciousness A difficult question and PL offers no answer, only her ruminations That bit I found it a tad tedious PL is an author for children s literature which makes her troubled mind about memory understandable For me, her actual memories give the book its interest Not that I haven t wondered myself why it is that certain odd bits of my life as a very small person are the ones that I remember It s all beyond my ken so I leave it at that and just enjoy the memories Most mirthful moment I shared Penelope s love for playing, The Teddy Bear s Picnic , over and over Unlike PL, I didn t play my 78 on a gramophone I gave it a rest when I played, The Chocolate Cowboy my hideout s a chocolate bar , by Roy Rogers Until this moment, I did not know that my favorite cowboy was the singer That record was a little yellow 45 Got to love YouTube for letting me hear those two records for the first time in over sixty five years That is the only downside to Oleander, Jacacranda getting lost in one s own childhood memories.From page 66, a choice excerpt, Every Christmas there was a carol service at the cathedral which was known as the Toy Service The point of it was that all attending children should donate a toy, which would be given to the families of poor Copts You could not give any old toy it had to be something you were especially fond of It was the element of sacrifice that mattered And so, every year, I stumped sullenly up the aisle clutching some beloved hairless teddy or wall eyed doll I like to think that my present agnosticism is the product of informed and intelligent reflection, but I suspect that the seeds may have been sown back then, when I was coerced annually into irrational sacrifice to the strains of, Away in a Manger Around page seventy, I became enad of Oleander, Jacaranda The book is very much in tune with my own perception of being a kid Here, I feel I must type out a paragraph from page seventy two, We Penelope and her nanny, governess and de facto mother, Lucy read the Bible from end to end Well, not quite Lucy had her own ideas about what was appropriate, so we skipped Leviticus and Numbers and Chronicles and indeed much of the Old Testament Formally, at any rate but I certainly dipped into it on my own, partly in search of that stuff about issues of blood and nakedness that had Lucy running for cover but also because I liked all those catalogues of names, those sonorous injunctions, that language When I look at the King James Version now, it is resonantly familiar Those rhythms and cadences are ingrained somewhere deep within me By the time I was in my early twenties, I knew that I was an agnostic, which presumably and ironically stemmed at least in part from that early emphasis in training for responsibility in the acceptance or rejection of ideas Intensive exposure to the King James Version did not make me a Christian, but it gave me a grounding in the English language for which I am profoundly grateful And when I see the pallid replacements favoured by the Church of England today the New International Bible and the deplorable Good News Bible I am amazed and saddened Well said, Penelope, well said I was steeped in the teachings of the Lutheran Church but after being graduated from Sunday School, at age eighteen, I never went back The kicker was when my namesake Thomas was chewed out for doubting that Jesus was indeed the real Jesus, and this after his being warned about the need to beware of false prophets Good grief That and as a young lad listening to the, be fruitful and multiply only to be admonished for having lust in my heart Say what Now there s a neat trick if you can pull it off And that s just for starters Occam s razor has it right, Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected All the Abrahamic religions have assumptions piled on top of assumptions However, I always did like the King James Bible and was quite offended when the new, teeth grinding version found its way into the American Lutheran Church service A facepalm moment for all time.Oleander, Jacaranda It was all great stuff and left me wanting Curious to see how PL s fiction turns out Finding a good book is a happy event finding a good author is even better.COMIC CODA from page 81 at some point I came across cartoon strips in newspapers or magazines and was hooked though also baffled by the evident sophistication Popeye was an especial challenge I couldn t understand the running joke about spinach, which we did not have And then there was Jane, the peroxide blonde with gargantuan bust and cleavage I thought her immensely appealing but could not work out why Who was Jane It took a bit of googling but I finally found her this is but one reference Ah, the girly comics, how well I remember them How old was I I m not sure Seven Eight Ten Whatever age I was, I suffered no such confusion I loved them With the Sunday comics spread out on the floor I carefully read all the funnies The Sunday comics were the apogee of the week I especially loved the girly drawings Alas, they have not been seen in the popular comics for many years The drawings were of a type like LI L ABNER, the Daisy Maes and Moonbeams, buxom and curvaceous, appeared in three or four strips I ve searched but cannot find them Even then I was amazed at how powerfully such images could capture my young mind Funny now, when I think of it Later, during my teens, girls would frighten the daylights out of me Then, I was sadly baffled and confounded.


  9. says:

    I read this book several years ago and then I recently listened to it on CD Don t expect a standard, chronological autobiography This is a memoir of the author s first 12 years, living in pre WWII Alexandria, Egypt, before she was sent to England to live with a relative Memories of early childhood are often fragmentary and sometimes unreliable and Lively acknowledges and even enjoys that fact Actually, a number of her books riff on the unreliability of memory and whether the accuracy of memories is all that important The first time I read the book, I wasn t a parent Now that I am and I m homeschooling my son, I really enjoyed Lively s retelling of her own homeschool experience, being taught by her nanny Lively s mother was, to say the least, an uninterested parent using the British education materials that were sent to most colonial families living ex pat lives at that time It isn t a history of pre war Egypt or a blow by blow account of Lively s life, but it is an intelligent and self aware memoir of an interesting childhood, by an author who was a curious and observant little girl.


  10. says:

    A quite unusual autobiographic account of a childhood in wartime Egypt Cairo, Alexandria and the Nile become alive and in my case woke my own memories of traveling to Egypt 40 years later Brilliantly told bits of memory between reflections on what it is to be a child and how memory changes with new experiences.


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Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceivedcharacters Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, audiobook Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, files book Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, today Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived 94233 A Poignant And Bittersweet Memoir From The Distinguished British Fiction Writer Penelope Lively, Oleander, Jacaranda Evokes The Author S Unusual Childhood Growing Up English In Egypt During The S And S Filled With The Birds, Animals And Planets Of The Nile Landscape That The Author Knew As A Child, Oleander, Jacaranda Follows The Young Penelope From A Visit To A Fellaheen Village To An Afternoon At The Elegant Gezira Sporting Club, One Milieu As Exotic To Her As The Other Lively S Memoir Offers Us The Rare Opportunity To Accompany A Gifted Writer On A Journey Of Exploration Into The Mysterious World Of Her Own Childhood


About the Author: Penelope Lively

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 Nex