The Golden Child

The Golden Child

Paperback

By (author) Penelope Fitzgerald, Introduction by Charles Saumarez Smith

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 19mm | 270g
  • Publication date: 28 October 1994
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006546250
  • ISBN 13: 9780006546252
  • Sales rank: 169,488

Product description

'The Golden Child', Penelope Fitzgerald's first work of fiction, is a classically plotted British mystery centred around the arrival of the Golden Child at a London museum. Far be it for the hapless Waring Smith, junior officer at a prominent London museum, to expect any kind of thanks for his work on the opening of the year's biggest exhibition - The Golden Child. But when he is nearly strangled to death by a shadowy assailant and packed off to Moscow to negotiate with a mysterious curator, he finds himself at the centre of a sinister web of conspiracy, fraudulent artifacts and murder...Her first novel and a comic gem, 'The Golden Child' is written with the sharp wit and unerring eye for human foibles that mark Penelope Fitzgerald out as a truly inimitable author, and one to be cherished.

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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

'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 'The Golden Child is rich in the qualities which have marked Fitzgerald's subsequent career; a pleasantly uncluttered prose style; an eye for the absurd and pretentious; the knack of being able to give comedy an undertow of menace. Most museums take themselves too seriously: here is the perfect riposte.' Sunday Telegraph 'Penelope Fitzgerald combines some gentle mockery of museum bureaucracy and procedures and some sharp parodies - of memos, structuralist lectures, children's essays and committee jargon - with a more serious view of the responsibilities of museums. She shows culture off-handedly inflicted by curators on a patient, suffering public, who are depicted as endlessly queuing and being systematically denied information and tea.' TLS 'Penelope Fitzgerald's first novel degenerates amusingly into tortuous espionage, giving hints of the wit and wisdom to come in her later award-winning books.' Mail on Sunday

Editorial reviews

England's answer to the King Tut madness - the "Golden Child" exhibit at London's great Museum - inspires a literate mystery-comedy that begins superbly but soon becomes far too knotty and cutely frazzled. Waring Smith, a junior officer at the Museum and chum of ancient Sir William Simpson (who unearthed the Golden Child tomb in Africa decades ago but now just putters about the Museum), is sent to Russia when the Museum suspects that there may be fakes among its borrowed Golden Child treasures. Indeed, Smith sees all the real Golden goodies in the Kremlin (!) and returns - only to find that Sir Will has been murdered in the Museum library. The clues include lots of silly hieroglyphics, and Smith's assistant sleuths include a professor named Untermensch and a socialist dissident on the Museum staff. Several bright comic moments, a few nicely Wodehousian oddballs, and some museum satire directly relatable to Tut - but Fitzgerald's formula plot is only half hidden behind all those obvious red herrings and all those hard-working verbal grace notes. (Kirkus Reviews)