The Blue Flower

The Blue Flower

Paperback

By (author) Penelope Fitzgerald, Introduction by Candia McWilliam

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  • Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 20mm | 222g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006550193
  • ISBN 13: 9780006550198
  • Sales rank: 13,844

Product description

From the Booker Prize-winning author of 'Offshore' comes this unusual romance between the poet Novalis and his fiancee Sophie, newly introduced by Candia McWilliam. The year is 1794 and Fritz, passionate, idealistic and brilliant, is seeking his father's permission to announce his engagement to his heart's desire: twelve-year-old Sophie. His astounded family and friends are amused and disturbed by his betrothal. What can he be thinking? Tracing the dramatic early years of the young German who was to become the great romantic poet and philosopher Novalis, 'The Blue Flower' is a masterpiece of invention, evoking the past with a reality that we can almost feel.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

'The Blue Flower is a model of what historical fiction can be at its best - when the radical otherness of other times is not merely acknowledged but made integral to the fictional experience. It's also Fitzgerald at her best - elegant, inventive, hilarious, unsparing. I adore this book.' Jonathan Franzen '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 'An enchanting novel about heart, body and mind. The writing is ellipitical and witty... so that what could be a sad little love story is constantly funny and always absorbing. This novel is a jewel.' Carmen Callil, Daily Telegraph 'Her sense of time and place is marvellously deft, done in a few words. She knows how they all walked, eased their old joints. She knows the damp smell of decay of the ancient schlosses. In a bare little book she reveals a country and an age as lost as Tolstoy's Russia and which we seem somehow always to have known.' Jane Gardam, Spectator 'Detail, expertly dabbed in, provides a substantial background for the story of a poet which, it is subtly suggested, is also the story of a remarkable moment in the history of civilisation... It is hard to see how the hopes and defeats of Romanticism, or the relation between inspiration and common life, between genius and mere worthiness, could be more deftly rendered than they are in this remarkable novel.' Frank Kermode, LRB

Editorial reviews

Fritz von Hardenburg, the young philosopher and poet who later took the name Novalis, has finished his university studies and is preparing to follow his father's profession of salt-mine inspector when he meets his 'true philosophy', his 'heart's heart', a 12-year-old girl of unsuitable (middle-class) family and little perceivable intelligence. His friends and family are thrown into confusion; how could this genius have settled for such a simple, juvenile and unattractive creature? Fitzgerald's re-creation of events is, as usual, masterly. We are immersed headlong in the ethics and atmosphere of late-18th-century Germany by her dexterous, adroit ability to impart information as if by osmosis. Her intellect is astounding, but the reader is never left behind. This book is comic, enlightening and a pleasure to read. (Kirkus UK)