Fitzgerald, three times shortlisted and Booker prize winner, and
winner of America's National Book Critics Circle Award, wrote
spare, quizzical novels concerned with human folly and
indescretion, about which she was always generous. The meek and the
dispossessed, what she referred to once as life's 'natural
victims', were what most attracted her. She was also extremely
funny, although her wit was so subtle that it could easily be
overlooked. Indeed, her style was self-effacing so that she did not
always gain the notice she deserved. This collection of short
stories will delight Fitzgerald fans and confirm her reputation. It
covers an extraordinary range of human experience, including the
supernatural (the model is Henry rather than M R James). The title
story concerns the daughter of a rector who meets a convict in a
church and abets his escape. An affection springs up between them
but nothing comes of it because the convict is deflected at the
eleventh hour by sexual temptation, the irony being that it is the
sexual response he has awakened in the girl which has made this
means of escape possible. In one weird story a boy's lost medal is
found on the ghost of a person - in another, the job of a
longstanding employee is 'axed' with gruesome consequences.
Eccentric artistic effort makes up a theme: a group of
indifferently talented artists, or a reclusive conductor of Mahler
who has taken refuge on a remote island. Fitzgerald's fascination
with the absurd is everywhere apparent, though it is the absurd of
Chekhov rather than Kafka - an awareness of the human inability to
transcend its own limitation and the capacity to laugh with rather
than at this. Indeed, it is Chekhov, finally, one seeks comparison
with in its appealing and inimitable collection. Reviewed by SALLEY
VICKERS Editor's note: Salley Vickers is the author of Miss
Garnet's Angel published by HarperCollins. (Kirkus UK)
A collection of Penelope Fitzgerald's short stories. Penelope
Fitzgerald was one of the most highly-regarded writers on the
English literary scene. Apart from Iris Murdoch, no other writer
has been shortlisted so many times for the Booker. Her last novel,
`The Blue Flower', was the book of its year, garnering
extraordinary acclaim in Britain, America and Europe. This superb
collection of stories, originally published in anthologies and
newspapers, shows Penelope Fitzgerald at her very best. From the
tale of a young boy in 17-century England who loses a precious
keepsake and finds it frozen in a puddle of ice, to that of a group
of buffoonish amateur Victorian painters on a trip to Brittany,
these stories are characteristically wide ranging, enigmatic and
very funny. They are each miniature studies of the endless
absurdity of human behaviour.
|Country of origin:
||197 x 130 x 10mm (L x W x T)
||Paperback - B-format
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