The Gate of Angels

The Gate of Angels

3.65 (1,082 ratings by Goodreads)
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Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is 1912, and at Cambridge University the modern age is knocking at the gate. Fred Fairly, a Junior Fellow at the college of St Angelicus, where for centuries no female, not even a pussy cat, has been allowed to set foot, lectures in physics. Science, he is certain, will explain everything. Until into Fred's orderly life come Daisy. Fred is smitten. Why have I met her? he wonders. How can I tell if she's quite what she seems? Fred is a scientist. To him the truth should be everything. But even scientists make more

Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 110 x 174 x 14mm | 18.14g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 000654360X
  • 9780006543602
  • 82,377

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 'A book which delights, amuses, disturbs and provokes reflection, in equal measure. It is a triumph of craftmanship, intelligence and sensibility.' Scotsman 'Contains more wit, intelligence and feeling than many novels three times its length.' Observer 'Formidable... no writer is more engaging than Penelope Fitzgerald.' Spectator 'Penelope Fitzgerald writes books whose imaginative wholeness and whose sense of what language can suggest is magical. Whichever way you twist the lens of this kaleidoscopic book, you see fresh things freshly.' Evening Standard 'The book is short and full of activity. The story moves swiftly in unexpected directions. It is inspiring, funny and touching.' LRB 'Gilbert could have written this and Sullivan set it to music. It shows an Edwardian university at Cambridge at its eccentric best. There are so many characters that are a delight. So many foibles and so much fancifying. Fitzgerald is the only author I know who regularly gets reviews pleading her to write longer books.' Daily Mailshow more

About Penelope Fitzgerald

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 more

Review Text

The entertaining latest from Fitzgerald (The Beginning of Spring, 1989, etc.) - as much a story of love in Edwardian England as a gentle but witty sendup of the genre and the age. When young Fred Fairly, son of an impecunious clergyman, becomes a junior fellow at St. Angelicus College in Cambridge, he expects to devote his life to science. Founded by a pope in the 15th century, St. Angelicus is the smallest college in Cambridge - so small that fellows can meet only in the dining hall or the courtyard. Unlike other colleges, it has also remained closed to female visitors - no woman can pass through its gates - and insists that its fellows be unmarried. Ambitious and keen on science, Fred should be happy, but he has fallen in love with the mysterious Daisy Saunders, whom he met after they were both thrown off bicycles by a recklessly driven cart and horse. Daisy is a young woman of character and beauty, but "not knowing how dangerous generosity is to the giver," she's been unfairly dismissed from her nursing position in London. Now she's come down to Cambridge with a sleazy journalist out to seduce her, but the accident intervenes. Daisy recovers and finds a low-level job; Fred courts her and proposes, but at the trial of the cart-driver the truth about poor Daisy's background is revealed, and their love seems doomed. As the genre demands, fate benevolently intervenes. Daisy, hearing cries of distress, enters St. Angelicus, where she is delayed long enough to be reunited with Fred. All the correct Edwardian nuances, but often turned upside down. A not-too-serious postmodern and feminine riposte to collegiate misogyny and some of E.M. Forster. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,082 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 23% (247)
4 36% (387)
3 28% (303)
2 11% (114)
1 3% (31)
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