Judgment Day by Penelope Lively
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love Penelope Lively's books, and I always find it so hard to describe why. They are generally quiet, without the bluster or bombast of so many novels, yet they are not cloying or claustrophobic. They are observational, but not overly full of description. Generally, I have to like a character in a book to like the book, but I don't feel that need with Lively's books. Certainly, there are characters I empathize with, and others that I dislike immensely, but I don't latch on to any one person.
Judgment Day is very much a Lively novel, in all of those senses. Set in a small English village, it is centered around an ancient church and its neighbors, and the events that happen one spring and summer when they plan a church fundraiser. The fundraiser is to be a play based on several violent moments in the history of the village and church. Throughout the story, there is an undercurrent of tension, or possible violence, like a tiger waiting to spring, and you don't know until the end how or if it will strike. Several of the main characters ponder faith and fate and existence, as many people do, and come away changed, and yet the same, as most people do. Lives are changed forever, and not changed, as is so often the case in real life. A picture of a village, and a picture of the wider world.
Note: This was one of my TBR challenge books for this year.