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The Beginning of Spring [Paperback]

Penelope Fitzgerald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing Jan. 21 2014
By Holly
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An intricate portrait in time June 28 2010
By Friederike Knabe TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Imagine Moscow in 1913: The Russian society is in transition; traditional political structures are being challenged by popular movements; industrial technological advances are leading to workers' unrests; an atmosphere of foreboding is palpable in every strata of society including among the English expatriates in Moscow. Frank Reid, an English business man, born and raised in Moscow, is highly conscious of the changing political landscape. After years of training in Western Europe he has returned to Moscow with his young family to take over his father's large printing press operations. Following an apparently harmonious and organized period during which the family had settled, Frank's wife Nellie suddenly departs without warning, leaving Frank to balance challenges at work with new responsibilities at home with his three children.

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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and subtle writing Oct. 10 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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 nineteenth century. Penelope Fitzgerald reminds one of Jane Austen with her soft, ironic touches and delicately-drawn characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect Dec 10 2000
By lisia
Format:Paperback
This book was really good. It showed Russia's personality beautifully. Although it was an intriguing story, it lacked a lot of action. If you're looking for a book with a somewhat non-existent plot, then this would be great for you. Just when you expect the story to get more interesting, it ends. There isn't much of a conclusion so the story doesn't really wrap itself up. I found it somewhat frustrating, how it just ended in a sentence. It is a very well written novel. It wasn't very long, which was nice. Fitzgerald does an excellent job describing Russia and the characters' feelings. Although it can be boring and dry at times, the reader truly becomes thrown into the lifestyle of a very interesting Russian family.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read Nov. 17 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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. I purposely read only two chapters at a time because I didn't want to leave that place and those characters. Read this as I did, curled up with a mug of tea late at night or early in the morning.
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