I have been browsing Siobhan’s blog Book and Biscuit and it reminded me that I have managed to read yet another book this weekend, Spiderweb by Penelope Lively. I recognised the author’s name as one I’d often come across as a child, but in fact she wasn’t the writer I was thinking of…

Spiderweb was interesting in several ways, and is one of those books that feels like it was published by Virago even though it wasn’t. Predictably this means lots of reflecting on women’s roles in society, and on how the main character has reached 65 and has remained single, but enjoyed a stimulating and unusual career as an anthropologist. This is thrown into contrast with other female characters, one of whom is obviously a sociopathic farmer/mother whose viciousness brings some actual spark to the plot, as opposed to vaguely feminist reminiscing. At least, there is the promise of a spark, and the tension starts building up quite frantically, but for all the terrible omens the book ends quite abruptly and without the dramatic showdown I was hoping for and expecting. I kept thinking, “there’s only a couple of pages left — something has got to happen soon!”… it was quite the let-down. Maybe Penelope Lively got bored and decided to just stop writing?


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