The Beginning of Spring Paperback – 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
Penelope Fitzgerald's novel weaves a delicate and gracefully imagined portrayal of the man at the centre, his attempts at normalcy despite inner doubts and conflicts. In fact, all her characters are exquisitely drawn and remain memorable beyond the reading of the novel. Selwyn Crane, the poetry-writing accountant who is also a follower of the Tolstoyan movement, is one such character, who is endearing despite his rather bumbling personality. Amongst other, possibly questionable, advice he recommends to Frank to hire the young Russian peasant girl, Lisa Ivanovna, as a governess for the children. She remains a mysterious, yet attractive, character and may not be as innocent and placid as she appears.Read more ›
This is the fifth of her nine novels I have read, and it will be difficult to top this work. Everything I have read has been excellent, so the pleasure of reading her work is just a matter of degree. The complaint as stated at the beginning is more frustration than anything else. So much appears to be shared with the reader, that ultimately deception is far to mild a word, and then when you think the puzzle is complete; she adds another thousand potential pieces by bringing the story to an abrupt halt.
But the story really is quite complete. After you read what she has written a logical explanation follows. She sets the process in motion, steps back, and knows the reader will continue to follow her lead. She pulls the strings of a reader like twine on a top. Once pulled she can step back, the top continues to spin. She is as manipulative as any writer I have had the pleasure to read, she also respects her readers with the presumption they will read what she gives them, and though left wanting more, will be able to put their own finish to what she has written.
I cannot use any names, as it would ruin the piece.Read more ›
One of Fitzgerald's many gifts is creating prematurely wise prepubescent female characters (as in _The Bookshop_ and _Offshore_) who view the fumblings of adults with clear-eyed but mostly gracious bemusement and fitfully attempt to keep the adults from totally mucking up. Dolly takes that role here. The omniscient narrator has her own compassionate bemusement at the frailities of adults who want to be loved and try to be useful to others. Frank and Selwyn are prime examples from this book. As far as I can tell, the only thing Ms. Fitzgerald can't do is create rounded prepubescent male characters (Ben here).
Most recent customer reviews
Penelope Fitzgerald is not very well-known, and deserves to be. This is a well-crafted novel, and would be a good addition to a book-club reading list.Published on Jan. 21 2014 by Holly
A truly beautiful and moving book permeated with humor, insight and compassion. It describes an English family living amidst the overwhelming chaos of life in Moscow in the early... Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2001
This book was really good. It showed Russia's personality beautifully. Although it was an intriguing story, it lacked a lot of action. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2000 by lisia
This is an evocative book, I was transported back in time to pre-communist Russia; her descriptions pull you into the story and hold you. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2000
This is the third novel I've read of this writer
and what strikes me is the compelling sense of
place and time even though I have never been
there. Read more