Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm hoping to like Penelope Fitzgerald...


Penelope Fitzgerald is one of those authors I have learned about solely through the blogging world. I found I kept running across her name, mostly in the blogs of British bloggers I respect, and I was intrigued.

She wrote nine novels, three of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and one of which won that coveted prize. So of course I mooched whatever I could of her work from BookMooch. I got The Blue Flower, which was highly praised when it came out in 1995, and reconstructs the life of an 18th-century German romantic poet and tells of his love for a young girl. I also got Offshore, which won the Booker Prize in 1979, and tells the stories of an eccentric bunch of people who live in houseboats on the Thames.

I'm not sure which one to start first! They're both slim, and they are on such different topics. Evidently Fitzgerald is also known for the breadth of her subject matter! And she embarked on her literary career at the age of 60, which also endears her to me. I love late bloomers!

Anyone have anything to say about Fitzgerald? Advice about which book to read first, or other favorites of hers? Let me know!

10 comments:

Litlove said...

I love Penelope Fitzgerald and think she is a very fine writer. This one I haven't read, but it is supposed to be one of her best. I really enjoyed Human Voices by her, which is about lift at the BBC during the Second World War. Good luck with her, gentle reader - hope you enjoy her writing!

Lisa said...

I just discovered this writer myself. I read The Bookshop and really liked it a week or so ago. I also just bought a copy of Offshore from my favorite used book store over the weekend and hope to start it soon.

bloglily.com said...

I like her! (I think the book I read was the Bookshop, a quiet book, but full of life.) I didn't know she started writing at 60. Does that mean I can lie around on the couch for another decade or so?

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--I also have Human Voices on my BookMooch wishlist. Thanks, I'll let you know what I think about her :)

lisa--I've heard good things about The Bookshop, too! Let me know if you like Offshore, I'm thinking I'll read that first.

bloglily--Lol, yes, this buys you a full ten years! I was thinking along the same lines... ;)

Robin said...

I loved The Bookshop, and was very impressed with her writing. Enjoy!

Gentle Reader said...

robin--Well, you're the third or fourth person to mention The Bookshop, which is now going straight onto my list--thanks!

Amateur Reader said...

I don't think there's a bad starting place, really (I've read all but two of her novels). The basic story of "The Blue Flower" may be a bit stronger than that of "Offshore", but the characters, setting, and writing are first-rate in both.

Fitzgerald did start writing novels late, although she had done some journalism before. But there's a sad story here - her first novel, "The Golden Child" was written to entertain her dying husband.

Gentle Reader said...

amateur reader--that is a sad story! I'll have to read up some on Fitzgerald's life. I did know that she had written before she became a novelist, and had worked for the BBC during the war, which obviously inspired Human Voices...
Thanks for the comments--this has all been really helpful :)

Bookfool said...

I've got a copy of The Bookshop (thanks to Robin's review), but I haven't read it, yet, and it'll be my first. The fact that she began writing so late in life is very encouraging -- thanks for mentioning that!

Gentle Reader said...

bookfool--The Bookshop will have to be my next, after the ones I have. I was encouraged by her "late-onset" creativity, too!