It must be at least a month since I've uttered the name Penelope Fitzgerald on here, so time to place her unashamedly centre stage once more, focus the spotlight and share very good news if you haven't heard already.
Actually I suspect Penelope Fitzgerald would hate that amount of fuss and bother so we'll settle for a quiet seat around the kitchen table instead of a great big fanfare.
It was the Endsleigh Salon last night and this month's theme A Favourite Book, so I took along House of Air, the Collected Writings of Penelope Fitzgerald especially as we find ourselves sitting in her favourite place,
'It can't be a favourite place unless you've been happy there. The place I want to describe is the village of Milton Abbot'
The Moors (House of Air p443)
Since her death I have been waiting an age for some vestige of literary tribute to appear. We've had House of Air and could do with another one of those, there must be more, but I understood a biography was 'being written' and no sign of that yet.
However big treats in store in 2008.
So I Have Thought of You, The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald is to be published by Fourth Estate in May.Letters to friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues will all feature.
This year I read The Blue Flower for the first time.
I'm odd like this. I've had The Blue Flower and Innocence unread, rationed for special reading moments, knowing that once I've read them that's it, I've read all that Penelope Fitzgerald wrote and that moment of first reading will be over for ever. Of course I can read them all over and over again and have done that with several but there's nothing like that first read.
Sometimes, if you are fortunate enough to detect the pulse of a book, then it beats in time with your own heart, there's a sense of synchronicity and you just know something special has happened.That happens to me every time I read Penelope Fitzgerald.
The Blue Flower took my breath away as does all her writing; even the books considered lesser in the grand scheme of things have sufficient in them to stand out from the crowd. I didn't even review The Blue Flower on here because I didn't actually think I could do it justice.
From the first quote by F. von Hardenberg, later Novalis,
'Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history'
I barely surfaced.Hardly any underlining, the book was a perfect whole and such a complete reading moment that I couldn't even bring myself to dissect it down into 'this was a brilliant read because...'.
Even A.N.Wilson agreed,
"this is such a clever book but it wears its cleverness lightly...Fitzgerald seems to be one of those rare artists gifted with both the knowledge of how things are anf the skill to record what she knows with subtlety and devastating truthfulness."
So what of the forthcoming letters? 400 pages of the kindness and thoughtfulness of Penelope Fitzgerald,
the astute and penetrating observations, the wisdom and the gentle compassion has me completely beside myself with
I have my name on a copy before the ink is even dry.