This is not just one of those tomes (actually not a tome but a manageable 258 pages) of a family saga spanning three generations which deal with the usual gamut of births, marriages and deaths. That is commonplace - interesting but still fairly commonplace.
Consequences goes far beyond that. Starting in 1935 we are dealing with a woman who is a quiet rebel - not someone who is going to tie herself to railings to get the vote or march in support of the suffragettes but someone who is "different" to the other members of her upper crust family. Lorna realizes very early on that this is going to cause stress and havoc in her family but she quietly goes about doing exactly as she wants and follows her heart in every decision. Fast forward to marriage with Matt - parents recoil - an artist (engraver in wood) and the idyll should continue. The specter of war intrudes, Matt is one of the casualties and Lorna's life is never the same. A young widow with a little girl - very common in Britain at the time.
Add to this a second marriage for Lorna and her sudden death in childbirth - with the baby boy surviving and her second husband being a wonderful though absolutely disorganized father to both children. Molly growing up in the 1960's, like her mother different to other girls of her age, having a relationship with an older man, having a baby and not getting married to him and life goes on.
The story goes on with Molly's daughter Ruth growing up in a single parent home but with lots of love and care from a step grandfather and a grand uncle who dote on her. The story comes full circle with Ruth who has grown up rather alone with only Molly to guide her and tell her the stories of her ancestors.
Penelope Lively writes more than a story. It is about life and what we in Asia call karma or fate - that somethings are just not possible to divert or even change. What will be will be. A twist in circumstances or timings have such far reaching consequences spread over not just one persons life but over several and the effects are like the ripples in a pool - always widening and continuing. Lively also shows that what one does in this life could also effect the next person who follows us. Something to ponder about!
This was my first read of Penelope Lively. I will definitely be looking for her books now.