Claudia Hampton is 76 years old, and dying in hospital. Having spent her career as a journalist and historian, she decides to spend her last days recounting her own history. The telling takes place in her mind, interrupted by nursing care and visits from family members. Born in 1909, Claudia was a bit of a radical and far more independent than most women of that period. She was an intellectual, pursued a career, and refused to marry even when she found herself pregnant. She was attractive, but not interested in the men who pursued her. She was a distant and non-traditional parent, and her relationship with her adult daughter was uncomfortable. Claudia's brother Gordon was the only person she could identify with; in fact, this bond was a bit too strong, and intimidating to others.
Claudia initially seemed cold and aloof, and I was worried we were heading towards the "career woman as bitch" stereotype. Then Penelope Lively took me deep inside Claudia, revealing her inner core, and the private, unforgettable love that changed her life. Suddenly, the other events in Claudia's life were cast in a far different light. This was a woman in extreme emotional pain, made all the worse by her unwillingness to share her feelings with anyone else. She simply could not appear vulnerable, and so kept her young adult experiences to herself for her entire life.
Moon Tiger is a moving, rich character study which also has me considering how to live life in such a way as to have no regrets at the end. ( )