Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life

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Penelope Fitzgerald achieved fame as a novelist in her sixties, and turned out one success after another achieving Britain’s highest literary accolades and awards. Biographies tend to either skirt issues or drone on about matters of interest to only a small circle of admirers or detractors. Hermione Lee finds a broader readership in an outstanding biography blended with lit. crit., (more respectfully known as literary criticism). Besides her research seeking answers from archives and personal memories, Lee describes and analyses Fitzgerald’s childhood, teaching career, writing, and sometimes bizarre lifestyle.

A schoolteacher for decades and widely acknowledged to be brilliant and definitely one of a kind, Fitzgerald endured poverty (living on a decaying river barge), stress (with a disgraced alcoholic husband), and contrived to integrate all experiences into her early novels before moving on and adding other experiences such as her travels and assorted friends.

Fitzgerald’s belief in education was paramount, echoing Erasmus and his demand for books, expecting her children to go to Oxford however straitened their circumstances. For American readers, the book reveals the quirkier side of English life, for all of us a hint of familiarity, a glimpse into a living-room at nightfall before the drapes are drawn.


Reviewed By:

Author Hermione Lee
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 512 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2014-Nov-18
ISBN 9780385352345
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2015
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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