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Spiderweb: A Novel by Penelope Lively
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Spiderweb: A Novel (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Penelope Lively

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2601243,918 (3.34)27
Member:bonniev
Title:Spiderweb: A Novel
Authors:Penelope Lively
Info:HarperCollins (1999), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:southern UK, neighbors, retirement, relationships

Work details

Spiderweb by Penelope Lively (1998)

  1. 10
    A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: "Spiderweb" is basically about a retired woman anthropologist, unmarried, who comes to live in a Somerset village. There are many flashbacks, in particular to her career in anthropology, and the contrast between living in the communities that were her fieldwork and the Somerset community: themes also of "A Few Green Leaves".… (more)
  2. 00
    Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym (KayCliff)
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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
(8.5) ( )
  HelenBaker | Dec 27, 2016 |
Basically about a retired woman anthropologist, unmarried, who comes to
live in a Somerset village. There are many flashbacks, in particular to her
career in anthropology, and the contrast between living in the communities that were her fieldwork and the Somerset community. There are also flashbacks to the heroine and her best friend as a pair
of woman undergraduates at Oxford, man-hunting - one of whom deliberately chooses her essay subject in order to be able to use the library where the student she fancies will go.
All themes also treated by Barbara Pym. ( )
  KayCliff | Jul 22, 2014 |
By habit and temperament detached and self-sufficient, Stella has retired from her career as a social anthropologist studying kinship and social connection around the world. She settles, for the first time in her adult life, in a cottage in Somerset and, as usual, stands on the outside studying the web of local customs. Her main contacts are Richard, the widower of her old friend Nadine, and Judith, an archaeologist, but we also see, through memories of her former friends, lovers and subjects of her professional scrutiny, why she made the choices she has made and why she is the way she is now.

In one sense, the spiderweb, then, is the web of human relations that she has studied professionally. In another, it is the web that is her past life and the web she tentatively begins to build in her new community.

Running parallel to Stella's story is that of the Hiscox boys who live down the lane and are caught in the web of their awful mother....

Interesting book, the dark side of British cozy communities. ( )
  ipsoivan | Apr 21, 2014 |
Stella, a very independent woman, has retired after years working as a social antropologist where she studied local societies in foreign lands. At the end of her career, spent in academia, she decides, on a whim, to retire in a quiet English village, where a widowed husband of her college friend has also retired.

This book moves back and forth in time and from character to character, often from paragraph to paragraph (making it a bit hard to follow at times), but there is such a richness to Stella, to her former life, and the new members of the village life she is trying to join that that was a minor annoyance. If you are a lover of character-driven fiction, this book is for you. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Oct 10, 2013 |
This is a story told from two points of view. Newly retired social anthropologist Stella Brentwood moves to a small Somerset cottage. Her past means that she is used to observing communities, not being part of them. We learn some of Stella's history and what lead her to this place. After a lifetime of travel and teaching will she be able to settle? The other strand to the story is that of the two teenage sons of Stella's closest neighbour and extracts from the local paper help to move the story along.

This is a short and deceptively simple book. There are questions unanswered but that is life. I enjoyed Stella's story and will be reading more from Lively in the future. ( )
1 vote calm | Aug 5, 2012 |
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The west of England was once remote, inaccessible and inconvenient.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140256946, Paperback)

A novel about an anthropologist who retires to a small Somerset village, where she finds that life is as subtle and elaborate as any she has encountered in her work. In particular, she tries to fathom her fierce neighbour who governs her family with a menacing force. From the author of BEYOND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS and HEAT WAVE.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:32 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After a lifetime of danger in primitive lands, retired anthropologist Stella Brentwood finds the civilized English countryside a little dull. One day she will discover civilized natives can be even more dangerous than those in the jungle.

(summary from another edition)

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