Innocence

Overview

Beautiful Chiara is the last of the Ridolfi, a Florentine family of long lineage and eccentric habits. She is smitten with Salvatore, a brilliant but penniless doctor, a rational man who wants nothing to do with romance. This is the story of how these two—with the best intentions, the kindest of instincts, and the most meddlesome of friends—make each other wonderfully miserable inside.

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Innocence

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Overview

Beautiful Chiara is the last of the Ridolfi, a Florentine family of long lineage and eccentric habits. She is smitten with Salvatore, a brilliant but penniless doctor, a rational man who wants nothing to do with romance. This is the story of how these two—with the best intentions, the kindest of instincts, and the most meddlesome of friends—make each other wonderfully miserable inside.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clever and dangerously beguiling." The Los Angeles Times

"As intoxicating as a shot of aged brandy . . . a true sensualist's feeling for Italy." The Washington Post

"The fullest and richest of her novels." Time Magazine

Emily Leider
Mrs. Fitzgerald casts a wry, forgiving eye on her characters and charms us even when her plot gets snagged in its complications. We are left with a new awareness of the folly - not of being comforted - but of believing we can control or even comprehend our common, mysterious predicament. -- The New York Times
Boston Globe
A delectable comedy of manners.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This charming, amusing and deft novel by a winner of the Booker Prize is set in Florence in the 1950s, though the characters might have stepped directly out of the Renaissance. The slightly eccentric characters share the trait suggested by the title, and never once does Fitzgerald strike a false note. Unique in the annals of Euro-American marital commerce is an aging count who trades his aristocratic lineage to an American in marriage and is ``left worse off than before.'' His daughter, beautiful, featherbrained Chiara, loves the solemnly scientific neurologist Salvatore, who has fled his native southern Italy and his father's deep involvement in politics; the elder is a passionate disciple of one of Mussolini's most distinguished victims. Others in a richly peopled scene include Maddalena, accurately known as Aunt Mad, and the hearty, bumptious, meddling, English schoolgirl Barney. This is a comedy of manners in the distinctively English tradition, brimming with the sweet pleasures of that high style. The novel shines with intelligence, wit, sly irony and the observant eye of a writer who seems unable to miss anything pertinent to her vocation. (April 30)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395908723
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1ST MARINE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 662,632
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Penelope Fitzgerald

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?"

Biography

Although some of her novels were published previously in the U. S., Penelope Fitzgerald remained little known to a general American audience until 1997, when Houghton Mifflin's trade paperback imprint, Mariner, published The Blue Flower, which was chosen as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award.

The then 81-year-old Fitzgerald was selected as winner of the NBCC Award over fellow nominees Don DeLillo, Philip Roth and Charles Frazier, winning her first American literary award. In her native England, Fitzgerald had long been a favorite of critics and writers. Her novel Offshore won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, and three of her novels -- The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels, and The Beginning of Spring -- were finalists for the Prize.

Fitzgerald began her writing career late in life. She was sixty years old in 1977 when her first novel, The Golden Child, was published, a book she wrote to entertain her husband, who was dying of cancer. Much of her previous sixty years' experience informs her writing, from her days as a lowly assistant at the BBC (Human Voices), to a stint living on a houseboat in the Thames (Offshore), to working at a bookstore in a seaside village (The Bookshop).

Fitzgerald was born into a distinguished intellectual and professional family, the daughter of E. V. Knox, who was editor of Punch, and the granddaughter on both sides of Anglican bishops (her father and three uncles are the subjects of her biography, The Knox Brothers). She won a scholarship to Oxford and graduated shortly before the Second World War.

With her husband, Desmond, she ran a small literary journal called the World Review, which reprinted pieces by such writers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Dylan Thomas.

Author biography courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.

Good To Know

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?"

While studying on scholarship at Oxford, one of Fitzgerald's fellow students was J.R.R. Tolkien.

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

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