Making It Up


At 72, Penelope Lively asks eight hypothetical questions about her life, among them: What if her mother — the wife of a British official in Egypt — had decided to relocate to South Africa rather than Palestine during World War II? What if her teenage romance with an older man had ended in out-of-wedlock pregnancy? What if she had chosen to write history rather than fiction? The masterful short stories in Making It Up — she calls them ”confabulations” — suggest answers to those questions. Most are lighthearted (she would have made a disorganized and permissive single mother), several are sobering (she envisions her own death en route to Cape Town), but they all display Lively’s incisive prose style, her wit, and, above all, her agile imagination.