The Beginning of Spring

The Beginning of Spring

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by Penelope Fitzgerald
     
 

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Frank Reid is a struggling printer in Moscow. On the eve of the Revolution, his wife returns to her native England, leaving him to raise their three young children alone. How does a reasonable man like Frank cope? Should he listen to the Tolstoyan advice of his bookkeeper? And should he, in his wife's absence, resist his desire for his lovely Russian housemaid?…  See more details below

Overview


Frank Reid is a struggling printer in Moscow. On the eve of the Revolution, his wife returns to her native England, leaving him to raise their three young children alone. How does a reasonable man like Frank cope? Should he listen to the Tolstoyan advice of his bookkeeper? And should he, in his wife's absence, resist his desire for his lovely Russian housemaid? How can anyone know how to live the right life?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Bewitching." Boston Globe
Los Angeles Times
Writing so precise and lilting it can make you shiver.
Emmeline Plunket
The Beginning of Spring,'' is a very good comedy of manners....She and her characters have their own agenda; its priorities are the timelessness of human nature and the possibility of love. She is that refreshing rarity, a writer who is very modern but not the least bit hip. Ms. Fitzgerald looks into the past, both human and literary, and finds all sorts of things that are surprisingly up to date. Yet as The Beginning of Spring' reaches its triumphant conclusion, you realize that its greatest virtue is perhaps the most old-fashioned of all. It is a lovely novel. -- The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Booker Prize-winner Fitzgerald ( Offshore ; Innocence ) reveals here the depth of a distinct and imaginative talent to amuse. Set in Moscow in the spring of 1913, the story concerns an English household that has fallen apart with the unexpected flight of Nellie Reid, a good and proper wife and heretofore devoted mother of three young children. (Fitzgerald is especially good at very droll children.) Nellie's husband, Frank, must carry on with his family and printing business while holding out hope for her return. A mysterious young woman from the countryside--she may be a dryad--is engaged to care for the children, and the plot, such as it is, takes many unexpected turns. But one doesn't read Fitzgerald for plot structure so much as for her sheer powers of invention: her novel raises more questions than it means to answer. Rich in subtle characterizations, wit and wonderfully textured prose, Fitzgerald's seventh novel succeeds in evoking the very essence of life one long-ago spring at 22 Lipka Street. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Set in Moscow in 1913, this tale chronicles several months in the life of Frank Reid, who is mysteriously deserted by his wife and must engage the simple peasant girl Lisa Ivanova to care for his three small children. Reid plods along in a remarkably mundane existence, relating to everyone with an amazing, unflagging apathy. Even an armed student radical who breaks into his shop and shoots at him cannot stir him to action. Lisa, to her credit, manages to stir him briefly to passion. The sole bright spot in this otherwise bleak, boring saga is Reid's hilariously precocious daughter, Dolly, whose abrupt, insightful comments are priceless. In this story, resolved anticlimactically in the last line of the text, there is very little spring, but a lot of grim, eternal winter.-- Ronald L. Coombs, SUNY Health Science Ctr. at Brooklyn Lib.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395908716
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.44(d)

Meet the Author


PENELOPE FITZGERALD wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 17, 1916
Date of Death:
May 3, 2000
Place of Birth:
Lincoln, England
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
Somerville College, Oxford University, 1939

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The Beginning of Spring 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why two authors? editorial says one not other