Author(s): Penelope Lively
At age sixty-five, retired anthropologist Stella Brentwood buys a cottage in Somerset, England, and slowly acquires neighbors, a dog, and a professional curiosity about the country village where she intends to settle and put down roots for the first time. The drama of life in the West Country alternates with Stella's powerfully vivid memories of lovers, friends, and her anthropological sojourns in such exotic places as the Nile Valley in Egypt, the island of Malta, and among farmers in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. She has spent her life studying communities of people--their families, social structures, how they welcomed outsiders into their midst--remaining an observer, privileged to share in their intimate life but not obliged, and finally unwilling, to tie herself closely to any lover, friend or social group.
In Somerset, Stella once again finds an opportunity to become part of the web of relationships that make for human society. Her oldest friend's husband, now widowed, is interested in something more than friendship with her. Her neighbors turn out to be dangerously violent and unstable family, a threat to the entire community as well as Stella herself. An old friend, an archaeologist, poignantly seeks her out for companionship. How will independent-minded Stella, always reluctant to make an emotional commitment, respond?
Written in exquisitely nuanced prose, Spiderweb is a captivating and deeply moving novel, a brilliant vision of our modern experience.