by Penelope Fitzgerald , Introduction by Andrew Miller
Category: Romance, Sagas & Historical / General
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 27 April 1989
Number of pages: 256
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is March 1913, and the grand old city of Moscow is stirring herself to meet the beginning of spring. Change is in the air, and nowhere more so than at 22 Lipka Street, the home of English printer Frank Reid. One day Frank's wife Nellie takes the train back to England, with no explanation, leaving him with their three young children. Into his life comes Lisa Ivanovna, a country girl, untroubled to the point of seeming simple. But is she? And why has Frank's accountant Selwyn, gone to such lengths to bring them together? And who is the passionate Volodya, who breaks into the press at night? Frank sees, but only dimly, that he is a rational man in Moscow, a city where love, and friendship, power and politics, are at their most unfathomable.
More deceptively evocative prose from the master of lyrical understatement. Muscovite Frank Reid is abandoned by his wife and left to cope with a floundering printing business and the welfare of his children against the daily trials of the freezing Russian conditions. Booker shortlisted in 1988. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
'Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality - the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.' Sebastian Faulks 'Wise and ironic, funny and humane, Fitzgerald is a wonderful, wonderful writer.' David Nicholls 'For the life of me I can't decide how properly to respond to this book. Whether it contains a latent moral or allegorical message, or whether it is simply a tour de force of craft and imagination I have not the faintest idea. I only know that it is one of the most skilful and utterly fascinating novels I have read for years. I cannot imagine any kind of reader who would not get a thrill from this gloriously peculiar book.' Jan Morris, Independent 'Penelope Fitzgerald has produced a real Russian comedy, at once crafty and scatty. She has mastered a city, a landscape and a vanished time. She has written something remarkable, part novel, part evocation, and done so in prose that never puts a foot wrong. She is so unostentatious a writer that she needs to be read several times. What is impressive is the calm confidence behind the apparent simplicity of utterance. "The Beginning of Spring" is her best novel to date.' Anita Arookner, Spectator
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the 'Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.
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