Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Moon Tiger and Mr Smith

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5734 (Published 14 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5734
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Books evoke memories unpredictably and therefore all the more powerfully. The Moon Tiger of Penelope Lively’s novel of the same name is the brand of mosquito coil that the protagonist uses while she is in Egypt during the war; it brought to my mind the years when I never slept without such a coil by my bed to keep the mosquitoes—culicine rather than anopheline—at bay. (I still caught dengue.) The brand was Double Happiness rather than Moon Tiger, but no one has ever described with more loving accuracy than Mrs Lively the slow smoulder of a mosquito coil as it leaves its delicate spiral of grey ash.

The protagonist, …

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